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Why Is Mold a Health Hazard? 7 Common Health Effects of Mold Exposure

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None of us like to think about mold; it’s fuzzy, rank, and just gross. And most of us know that in some form or fashion, mold is bad for us. But what sort of a health hazard is it anyway?

In most cases, mold doesn’t pose much of a risk to healthy adults, but there are some cases where it can be extremely dangerous. From systemic infections to mold poisoning and asthma attacks, too much exposure to mold can cause serious problems for some people. Read on to learn more about the dangers mold poses to your health and what you can do to prevent them.

What Is Mold?

Before we get into mold as a health hazard, let’s take a look at what mold is in the first place. Mold is a kind of fungus that grows in multicellular filaments. They’re from the same basic family as yeast, mushrooms, and a variety of other organisms that we interact with with no problems every day.

You may be surprised to learn that you can see those multicellular filaments that define mold. They form fine strands across a surface, which is what makes mold look fuzzy. These strands are clear, so if mold appears to be colored, what you’re seeing are the reproductive spores the fungus produces.

How Common Is It?

You may also be surprised to learn that mold is present in almost every area of your house. Yes, even if you clean thoroughly, mold, like yeast, shows up in any building where there’s moisture. In most cases, the mold growth is small enough that you’ll never notice it.

Mold spores live in both indoor and outdoor environments. They can enter your home through windows, doors, air conditioning system, and vents. The places where you start to notice mold growths are spots where there’s a leak or some other excess moisture.

Mold Poisoning

One of the biggest concerns with mold exposure is that you might get mold poisoning, also known as mycotoxicosis. We should note that this is not a common problem in healthy adults. It tends to impact children, older adults, or those with compromised immune systems.

Mycotoxicosis can cause cold- and flu-like symptoms – runny nose, scratchy throat, aches, and respiratory problems. It can also cause headaches and fatigue, as well as diarrhea. Some people may also develop skin issues, including itchy, dry skin or hair loss.

Allergies

A more common problem with mold exposure in the home is mold allergies. Somewhere between 3 and 10 percent of people have mold allergies that make their systems act up when they’re exposed to mold. This can sometimes be linked to asthma, which can be incredibly dangerous.

In most cases, a simple mold allergy will cause upper respiratory problems. You may get a runny or stuffed-up nose, and you might start sneezing. Symptoms could also include a cough, itchy or watery eyes, a scratchy throat, or dry, scaly skin.

Asthma Attacks

If you have asthma, exposure to mold can be especially risky for you. On its own, mold exposure can be a risk factor for asthma attacks. But in combination with a mold allergy, which is common among severe asthmatics, mold exposure can trigger dangerous asthma attacks.

During an asthma attack, the muscles around your airways contract, and your body dials up the amount of mucus those airways produce. This makes it hard for you to get enough air into your lungs, which can become a life-threatening problem if it’s not treated. If you know you have a mold allergy and you have asthma, be sure to always carry a rescue inhaler with you, since mold exposure can happen anywhere.

Infections

In some rare cases, mold exposure may lead to a systemic fungal infection. These can be extremely dangerous, and even life-threatening if left untreated. In the most extreme cases of invasive aspergillosis, you may get a fever and chills, start coughing up blood, have shortness of breath, or develop skin lesions.

This form of fungal infection is extremely rare. It occurs only in people who are in treatment for cancer and have undergone chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, or an immune system disease. Other forms of aspergillosis can also occur in people with chronic lung conditions such as emphysema, tuberculosis, or sarcoidosis.

High Risk Factors

The biggest risk factors for negative reactions to mold are age-related. Very young children and older adults tend to have weaker immune systems and so tend to react more strongly to mold. If you have young kids or older people in your home, be sure to keep the moisture levels as low as possible and call a mold removal service if needed.

These measures are also important if you have someone with asthma or a compromised immune system living in your home. People who are immunocompromised are at the highest risk, since they are the ones who could develop fungal infections. If everyone in your household is a healthy adult and you don’t have excessive mold growths, you probably don’t have anything to worry about.

Learn More About Mold as a Health Hazard

Reactions to mold are relatively rare, but for certain people, they can be life-threatening. From mycotoxicosis to aspergillosis, mold exposure can be a huge health hazard and cause a range of dangerous and uncomfortable symptoms. So if you think you have excessive mold growths in your home, don’t wait to get them taken care of.

If you need to get rid of mold in your home, get in touch with us at Clean First. We’re Toronto’s leading mold removal service, and we can help you check for and remove mold from your home. Contact us today and start restoring your peace of mind.

asbestos inspection

Asbestos Inspection: What to Expect When Buying or Selling a Home With Asbestos

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2,000 Canadians die every year from Asbestos. It was once thought of as the perfect solution to many housing needs. However, there was one problem.

It’s a health hazard. Although asbestos is now banned in Canada, it still lingers in many older homes. This can complicate a house sale whether you’re the owner or buyer. And if you’re not careful, you could end up with a home contaminated with asbestos.

Has an asbestos inspection revealed this dangerous mineral in a potential home? Here’s what you need to know about buying or selling a home with asbestos.

1. The Dangers of Asbestos

In Canada, homebuilders used asbestos for insulating and fireproofing buildings until 1986. There are six different types of asbestos, all of which are minerals mined from the earth.

As time passed, new research began to suggest that asbestos was not as great as it once seemed. Asbestos fibers are small and sharp, and many types of asbestos can become airborne. When inhaled, these fibers damage the lungs, leading to respiratory conditions such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

If asbestos props up when buying or selling a home, it can throw a wrench in the process.

2. Why You Might Need an Asbestos Inspection

As a homebuyer, the task falls to you to discover asbestos in a potential home. You should know that a house inspection does not cover asbestos. An asbestos inspection requires specialized knowledge and a professional eye.

This means, if you suspect a home might contain asbestos, you’ll want to have a separate asbestos home inspection. There are some simple rules of thumb to help you determine if an asbestos inspection is worthwhile.

The most important consideration is the age of the home. If the building was constructed before 1986, there is a good chance it contains asbestos. You can find asbestos in ceiling tile, behind walls, on ductwork, and more.

By law, a real estate agent must disclose if a home has asbestos. But just because an agent doesn’t reveal asbestos doesn’t mean it’s not there. If they never had an asbestos inspection completed, they don’t know any more than you do.

3. Should I Remove Asbestos in My Home?

Asbestos isn’t always dangerous. If you discover asbestos in your home, that’s not the end of the world. The materials are often behind walls or otherwise out of the way.

So long as you can’t come in contact with asbestos, it’s safe to leave it as it is. This isn’t always true, however. Asbestos may be a health hazard depending on the condition of the home.

For example, if the walls are cracked or loose, asbestos can slip out into the living area. Certain types of asbestos are more dangerous than others. If your home has vermiculite insulation, you may be in trouble.

Vermiculite contains asbestos and is prone to aerosolizing. This was often used in the attic and has the appearance of small granular rocks. Entering the attic space is a dangerous proposition since you could disturb the vermiculite and asbestos.

Asbestos presents a problem when you wish to renovate your home. The construction process is sure to release asbestos, which can contaminate you, your home, and your workers.

Either way, there are many reasons why you should get asbestos removal before making changes to your home. Encapsulated asbestos is an option if you don’t want to pay for an entire removal service.

4. How to Protect Yourself as a Homebuyer

The importance of a home inspection contingency cannot be understated. You don’t want to buy a home that you later learn is contaminated with asbestos.

With a home inspection contingency, a homebuyer is allowed to cancel a home sale if an inspection reveals troubling results. You should absolutely require a contingency in place for any Canadian home older than 1986. It is, however, still a good idea to include a contingency for newer homes.

Remember that the owner of the home may not have performed an asbestos inspection. And odds are, they didn’t. That’s why it’s a good idea to take control of the situation and do it yourself.

An asbestos home inspection may be an additional fee, but it’s better than buying a home that will cost you thousands in asbestos removal later on.

5. Selling a Home With Asbestos

You have several options to make your home more attractive to homebuyers. The easiest option is to use an asbestos removal service. Although the service can be costly, this means you won’t have to lower your sale price to make a more competitive offer.

In that way, asbestos removal can pay for itself. And by removing asbestos, it also allows you to renovate key areas of your home. Perhaps you put off remodeling the bathroom because of the presence of asbestos.

Once it’s gone, you’ll be prepared to modernize your home and make it more attractive for homebuyers.

Of course, you could also choose to do nothing. If you live in a popular area, homebuyers may overlook asbestos contamination. Otherwise, you may have to lower your sale price or offer other incentives to land a home sale.

Are You Considering Asbestos Removal?

Although your home may be safe now, that won’t last forever. Materials containing asbestos will break down over time and increase your odds of contamination. Since it can take a decade or more to experience the effects of asbestos, you won’t know there’s a problem until it’s too late.

Has an asbestos inspection revealed a nasty surprise? Give yourself the peace of mind you deserve. Contact CleanFirst and take advantage of our asbestos removal services.

Asbestos and Cancer Risk: Everything You Need to Know

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$10 million a year — that’s how much Canadian companies made through asbestos exports. That was back in the 1930s, which means that today, that amount would equate to $150 million.

So, it’s no wonder asbestos was once dubbed the “Canadian gold”. It seemed to be a thing of wonder — not only was it durable, flexible, and fireproof; it was also cheap. Plus, it made for great insulation.

All these properties led to the material’s massive use in manufacturing and construction.

What people back then weren’t aware of was the link between asbestos and cancer. In fact, it wasn’t until 1924 when the first medical article on asbestos dangers came out. But by then, millions of Canadians have been already exposed.

How exactly did this “miracle material” turn out to be a medical disaster though? And what kind of cancer, among other diseases, could it cause?

All these and more, we’ll uncover in this post, so be sure to keep reading!

The Undeniable Link Between Exposure to Asbestos and Cancer

Today, asbestos exposure is the primary cause of workplace deaths in Canada. Since 1996, there have already been 5,000 approved asbestos-related death claims. Mesothelioma, a type of aggressive cancer, accounts for many of these claims.

But why exactly does asbestos cause cancer?

The simple reason is that it’s a type of carcinogen, meaning, it promotes cancer formation. In fact, the World Health Organization reports that all asbestos types are carcinogenic. Aside from mesothelioma, WHO also noted asbestos to be a cause of lung, ovarian, and larynx cancers.

Many other health organizations classify it as carcinogenic, including the following:

  • International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC)
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • European Union (EU Classification and Labeling)

So, what about in Canada? The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) classifies asbestos as a D2A material. This makes it a “poisonous and infectious material” with very toxic effects.

Asbestos and Mesothelioma

Every year, 2.1 in every 100,000 Canadians receive a mesothelioma diagnosis. In 2013 alone, doctors diagnosed 595 Canadians with this asbestos-caused lung cancer. In the same year, this type of cancer claimed 485 lives in the country.

Mesothelioma, while seemingly rare, is still the most common type of asbestos cancer. Exposure to asbestos is in fact, the primary culprit behind this lung cancer.

Mesothelioma develops when asbestos fibers enter the body through inhalation or ingestion. These fibers become embedded in the lung’s, heart’s, or abdomen’s lining. From there, the anchored fibers start to destroy mesothelial cells, resulting in inflammation.

Over the years, the damaged mesothelium begins to develop tumors. Yes, it can take years — between 20 and 50 years — before symptoms, such as dry cough and shortness of breath, appear.

Chest or abdomen pains, fever, night sweats, and muscle weakness are also common signs. Many mesothelioma patients may also have fluid around their lungs (pleural effusion). This can then lead to complications in respiratory functions.

Asbestos-Caused Lung Cancer

Mesothelioma is different from asbestos lung cancer. As mentioned above, mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs. Whereas the former is cancer of the lung tissues.

As fibers become trapped in the lung tissue, they can irritate and cause scarring there. Over time, these effects result in tumor formation. Asbestos fibers can cause both non-small and small cell lung cancers.

Like with mesothelioma, the more exposure to asbestos, the higher the risk of lung cancers. Meaning, the more fibers exposed to and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk.

Also, it can take about 15 years or more from the time of exposure to asbestos before lung cancer develops. Moreover, smoking increases the risk of developing lung cancer in asbestos-exposed individuals.

The Other Hazards of Asbestos Exposure

Aside from cancers, asbestosis is another huge health problem caused by asbestos exposure. In this case, the inhaled or swallowed asbestos fibers get trapped deep in the lungs. From there, the fibers can irritate and cause scarring in the lungs.

Both the irritation and scarring cause difficulties in breathing. That’s why asbestosis’ primary symptoms are chronic cough and shortness of breath. Some may also suffer from chest pains, appetite loss, and weight loss.

From the first exposure to asbestos fibers, it can take between 10 and 20 years for asbestosis to occur. In some people, it can even take up to 40 years or longer. The lung disease, however, usually worsens over time.

The Ban on Asbestos Doesn’t Mean Complete Protection

Last year, Canada has finally banned the sale, use, and import of processed asbestos fibers. Products that contain this material are now also barred. Consumer products with asbestos in more than trace amounts are also now illegal.

These are all good news, but that doesn’t mean you’re 100% protected from asbestos. After all, these fibers are still in many materials and products sold in Canada before the ban.

That’s why it’s vital to identify asbestos-containing materials in your home ASAP. For instance, homes built in the 90s may have asbestos ceiling and floor tiles. Insulation, house siding, cement, plaster, and even furnaces may also contain asbestos fibers.

If you find any of these materials, it’s best to have an expert asbestos removal service get rid of them for you. Especially if any of them are showing signs of wear and tear. These damages allow fibers to get released into the air.

Don’t Underestimate the Dangers of Asbestos

As you can see, there is no denying that asbestos and cancer go hand in hand. The bottom line is, asbestos fibers cause lung cancer and mesothelioma. They are a major health hazard that you should no longer ignore.

If your home or office contains a lot of asbestos materials, we can help. Please get in touch with us ASAP, and we’ll get rid of these hazards in the safest possible manner!

how to remove asbestos

Guide to Safely Remove Asbestos

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So, you’ve got an asbestos problem at your home. 

You may think you can get rid of it yourself without much of a hassle. However, while it’s true that you can safely remove it yourself, it’s not recommended and requires a lot of work to do so safely and legally. 

Fair warning: if you’re considering removing asbestos from your home yourself, you should definitely think twice before doing so. Failure to properly remove asbestos could lead to health risks that can cause cancer, among other diseases, in anyone exposed to the minerals. 

With that being said, if you’re going to try and tackle this process yourself, it’s best to do so properly, and as safely as possible, to protect your own health, as well as that of your loved ones.

We’ll give you a five-step breakdown on how to remove asbestos, as well as a few things you should be on the lookout for during the process.

Also, we’ll help keep you, and your area, clean and safe.

Let’s get started.

1. Be Safe

Without a doubt, the most important thing to consider when dealing with asbestos is safety. Because dealing with asbestos is so dangerous, it’s actually illegal for a non-professional to remove more than a certain amount in some areas. Be sure to check with your local authorities before proceeding with the removal process to ensure you’re not breaking any laws. 

As we stated earlier, asbestos consists of minerals that can make humans very sick, so it’s crucial that you protect yourself and others around during this process.

You’ll need to cover yourself from head-to-toe in personal protection equipment (PPE). Everything from your feet to your face and eyes should be covered when dealing with asbestos. You’re not going to want to eat or drink while working in the area, either.

Do not remove your suit, or any other protective equipment item, while exposed to asbestos. That includes during the cleanup process, which we’ll get to in a bit. 

2. Prepare the Area

Once you’ve got your equipment on, it’s time to prepare the area. 

Remove any items from the area, including rugs, to prevent contamination. Once the area is clear, erect 6mil plastic everywhere that will be exposed to asbestos.

That includes any outside area that you plan to utilize during the removal process.  

You must rent a negative pressure machine to ensure not to spread the asbestos fibers, and must do 6 air exchanges per hour.

Tape plastic sheets over all doors, windows, air conditioning vents, and other areas that could leak the contaminants to other rooms during the removal process. Also, have any guests or other residents leave the area completely until the process is finished.

Don’t forget about pets during this procedure, either. It’s wise to remove them from the home completely until the process is completed. 

3.  Remove the Asbestos Properly 

Now, let’s get to the fun part: removing the asbestos

First, it’s important to note that power washing asbestos is dangerous and illegal, so avoid that completely. When removing asbestos cement sheets, lightly (and gently) wet them to keep the dust down. 

Do not use power tools of any kind when removing asbestos. Avoid drilling or cutting into any asbestos materials, as it can stir up the dust and spread it, which is obviously dangerous.

Once you’ve removed the asbestos sheets, lay them in a plastic sheet and wrap them completely. Tape the plastic closed, and the label it, so anyone who comes in contact with it knows what it is.

4. Clean Up

Once you’ve properly removed asbestos from your home, you’re not done yet. You still have to properly clean your area and safely transport your waste to a local waste facility that accepts asbestos materials.

When cleaning up, be sure to safely remove all plastic that was used during the process. Like the asbestos sheets themselves, fully wrap all used plastic (and other materials like wipes) in plastic, then tape and label it.

Do not use a normal household vacuum cleaner of any kind to remove any leftover particles. You’ll need to rent a HEPA vacuum cleaner to use during the cleanup process that meets code. 

Sweeping also stirs up the dust, so it’s best to avoid that as well. Wet all areas with soap water that appear to have gotten contaminated to limit the amount of dust stirred up during the cleaning process.

5. Legally Dispose of the Asbestos

You’ll need to find a facility in your area that can receive the waste legally, as you can’t just dispose of it anywhere. Be sure you, and anyone traveling with you, are clean and wearing new suits. Additionally, the asbestos must be transported in a covered, leak-proof vehicle.

Throwing the sheets in the back of a pickup truck, even while wrapped and tape is a bad idea and could lead to exposure. 

It’s crucial that you dispose of the sheets immediately following removal. Do not leave it to be done the next day, or the next week, as you’ll be risking damage to the bags and the asbestos spreading.

How to Remove Asbestos

Well, there you have it! Now you know how to remove asbestos from your home!

Not as easy as you thought, huh?

Remember, safety is without a doubt the most important thing to keep in mind during this process. Take every single precaution to ensure the safety of you and others around you. 

Also, don’t forget to check with the laws and regulations in your area. in Ontario its regulation 278-05 that must be strictly followed. You could be looking at a big fine, otherwise, so it’s really best to avoid the situation completely.

We highly recommend you contact a professional to remove any asbestos from your home. One wrong step could be detrimental to you, and your loved ones, which is why it’s wise to let the professionals handle it for you.

If you’re looking for a licensed professional to take care of your asbestos problem, contact us today, we’ll be glad to assist you.

black mold

The Truth About Black Mold: What It Is and How to Get Rid of It

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It’s estimated that over 50% of homes have issues with mold. It’s more than a simple household nuisance. As mold is quick to spread and certain types of mold are far more dangerous than others.

Mold also has the potential to impact your health and damage the value of your home. So, what can you do as a homeowner to keep your home from becoming a breeding ground for mold?

Read on for the risks of black mold and how to get rid of it once and for all.  

The Many Dangers of Black Mold 

Mold is a type of fungus that can become toxic. It can get beneath surfaces and cause damage to your home. Mold can also wreak havoc on your health and wellbeing. 

It’s a risk for pets, children, elderly adults, and pregnant women. Mold has the potential to cause infertility in women trying to conceive. It can also create problems for a developing fetus and newborns. 

Breathing in mold spores can also pose risks for an otherwise healthy adult. It can cause headaches, fever, and fatigue. Mold symptoms may also resemble the flu or common cold. 

Getting subjected to mold may result in breathing problems. You may experience coughing, sneezing, and changes in mucous. A stuffy nose may also persist if you’re exposed to mold. 

Mold may also lead to eye and throat irritation. If mold spores come into contact with your skin it may develop a rash.  

It can also interfere with the immune system. This may make you more susceptible to infection and disease. Those with extreme mold allergies may be even more at risk.

Black mold spores also contain neurotoxins, which can impact brain and memory functions. Prolonged mold exposure can cause issues with concentrating, behavioral changes, and anxiety. Coughing up blood, vomiting, and seizures are other symptoms of high exposure to mold. 

Some homeowners notice that their sickness symptoms subside once they leave the home. This can be a sign that there is a mold problem living in your walls. 

How to Identify Black Mold in Your Home

The most common causes of mold growth include areas of the home that are prone to its growing conditions. Mold thrives in environments with high moisture levels and warmer temperatures.  

It tends to grow in dark and humid areas, like bathrooms. You may also find black mold living in basements and between walls.

The scary thing is that mold is not always visible to the naked eye. It can hide inside attic insulation, drywall, wood paneling, and beneath the carpet. Yet, mold has a certain musty smell that you will notice. 

Mold can also be gray, white, or green in color. Yet, the black mold gets characterized by its dark coloring. As black mold grows it also tends to take on an irregular shape.  

If you’re unsure, try googling black mold pictures. This will show you other characteristics of how the fungi will appear. A mold inspection is helpful if you cannot find the mold but suspect that its there. 

How to Stop Mold Growth 

There are a few preventive techniques to keep mold from growing in your home. You want to focus on quality air flow to ventilate your living spaces. Be sure to open windows to allow fresh air to move throughout the home. 

You can also use a dehumidifier to lower humidity levels. Ideal humidity levels should fall between 30 to 50 percent. This will help to stop the growth of black mold in your house.

Installing air ventilation systems in humid environments like your bathrooms also helps. Mold can also live inside HVAC vents, ducts, and fan coils. So be sure to follow routine cleaning and maintenance for these systems.      

Leaks can also cause water damage that leads to mold growth. So always fix any roof or plumbing leaks as soon as they happen.  

It’s also important to keep water away from the home’s foundation. You can do this with gutters and a sloping ground elevation. Also, check to make sure there isn’t any standing water in your basement.

It also helps to run an indoor air quality test to check for toxins and pollutant levels. Any mold you notice should get removed right away to stop it from spreading or making you sick. 

How to Remove Black Mold   

Small spots of mold, like those in your shower, can sometimes get removed by yourself. People often use natural methods like white vinegar, baking soda, or tea tree oil for this. 

But black mold removal is different and involves a special process. It can be dangerous to try and remove this type of mold on your own.

Touching or breathing in the mold can pose health risks. It’s also possible to disrupt mold spores when trying to remove them yourself. This can cause them to travel into the air or spread to other areas in the home. 

It’s best to use professional services for mold removal or remediation. This includes people who get skilled in how to remove mold the safest way possible.

They also have proper safety gear, tools, and techniques for mold removal. This includes special cleaning products, ventilation masks, and protective plastic sheeting. 

Mold removal teams also check home materials that may have gotten infected with mold. This includes checking the drywall and insulation of the home. This helps to ensure all traces of mold have gotten removed and it won’t grow back. 

Professionals may also use antimicrobial cleaning agents after the mold has gotten removed. Some also use special air filtering products for cleaner air quality after removal. 

Ensuring the Successful Removal of Black Mold in Your Home 

Black mold can grow in any home, as long as the living conditions allow it. This can impact your home’s condition and the health of your family.

Following proper maintenance tips can help stop mold from growing in the home. Yet, remember that smell is often the first sign that there is a growing mold problem.

To keep a safe and healthy home, you’ll want to have the mold removed as soon as possible. Contact a professional to learn more about how to rid your home of the dangers of mold. 

poor air quality

Something in the Air: The Top Signs Your Home Has Poor Air Quality

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Have you noticed you get more headaches at the end of the day? That you have unexplained allergy-like symptoms? Or maybe you even feel like you have a mild fever at work, but feel better once you’re outside or at home?

All those are symptoms of poor air quality. You could be exposed to anything from elevated dust, to deadly, toxic mold.

Want to learn what symptoms to look for in your health and in your environment? Check out the guide below.

What Does Bad Air Quality Mean for Your Health?

When you’re breathing in bad air, pretty much everything in your body suffers. Oxygen is essential for almost every bodily process, and when the air quality is compromised, that oxygen gets tainted by other things.

Like VOCs or volatile organic compounds. That’s what most indoor air pollutants are called, whether they’re mold spores or dust from a nearby construction site.

The amount of damage these compounds can do depends on a few factors. How dense is the air with these chemicals? Aka, how many of them are in the air?

Then you have to consider the time that someone’s spent breathing these chemicals in. It’s different if you walk through a room with bad air and take a few breaths, vs if you work 8 hours a day in that room.

The density of the air pollutants and the time you spend breathing them determine what effect they have on your body.

Short Term Health Effects

When you’re in a room breathing low-quality air, you’ll feel uncomfortable.

For some people that show up as headaches or eye irritation. You could develop allergy-like symptoms, that isn’t due to allergies at all. Trouble breathing and nausea are two more serious side effects, usually accompanied by confusion or dizziness.

Nosebleeds can happen when the air quality is extremely low, so if your nose starts bleeding out of nowhere, please seek clean air.

Sometimes you don’t notice any short term effects of low-quality air. Many people misdiagnose their symptoms as seasonal allergies, or just write them off.

Prolonged low-quality air exposure can lead to long term damage.

Long Term Damage

In the case of long-term exposure to air pollutants, people have developed everything from the black lung (an extreme) to asthma.

Damage to the bodies organs can occur, as can central nervous system damage and cancer.

Want to know if you’re breathing dirty air? Here are a few ways how to tell.

How to Tell if You Have Poor Air Quality

Whether you’re concerned about your office or your home, here’s what you can look for.

1. Worsening of Allergy-Like Symptoms

If you find yourself sneezing and feeling congested when you’re at work/in your home, but feel things getting better when you leave – that could be a sign of poor air quality.

See if your symptoms are made better by opening windows or getting an air purifier.

2. Think About Seasonal Changes

Sometimes the organic compounds in the air aren’t deadly, but they’re still annoying. This happens usually in spring and early summer when plant pollen is flying around.

You can google your town and “pollen forecast” to find out if that’s the issue. It’ll give you a rating, low, medium, or high, which may explain your symptoms.

3. Consider Physical Changes

It’s normal for home repairs or remodels to kick up some dust. But the dust should be well contained in the construction area of your home.

If you have an old home or live in a place where mold is common, it’s possible that the renovations or repairs irritated asbestos or toxic mold in your home.

On the one hand, this is a good thing. You want to find out about the toxin so you can have it removed. But on the other hand, removal is expensive and you may have already developed health issues from living with the toxin (unknowingly) for so long.

You can also suffer from renovations or constructions that your neighbors are doing, especially if you live in an attached home.

If you suspect that’s the issue (ie, the timing works out) ask them what quality tests or inspections they’re doing along with their work.

4. Pay Attention to Air Flow

This mostly goes for work buildings, unless you’ve all of a sudden noticed a change in your home.

If there are spots in your office (or home) where the air is very cold or very hot, that shows there’s some sort of blockage or issue with the ducts. The entire home or office should be at the same temperature, give or take a few degrees.

If you notice extremes, call an HVAC professional to come to check things for you.

If they find that things are flowing strangely because of a blockage or they find things like mold or other toxins, you’ll need to call a mold removal professional.

They can not only diagnose your problem, but help you understand how widespread it is, or if it’s a contained issue. They’ll set up a removal plan for you and encourage you to see a doctor, depending on the severity of the issue.

Can I DIY?

Absolutely not. Trying to remove dangerous toxins like mold or asbestos is not a good idea. When you remove the particles from the surface, microparticles get into the air.

If you don’t have the proper protection, you can inhale those particles and make your symptoms worse.

Calling a professional is not only recommended, but it’s mandatory to protect your and your families health.

If you suspect you have poor air quality, call an expert first. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

asbestos removal in toronto

Signs You Need to Hire Experts in Asbestos Removal in Toronto

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At one time, having asbestos in your home was considered a great feature.

Not so much anymore. 

This heat and water resistant material was popular to use in home construction until the 1980s. However, we now know that asbestos can cause major lung problems, including lung cancer. 

You should consider asbestos removal in Toronto, as many older homes still contain it. Here are a few things to know about it, and how to get rid of asbestos with the help of professionals. 

The History of Asbestos

We often think of asbestos as a fairly modern material, but the truth is its use goes back a lot further than that. In fact, it’s believed that asbestos was used in candle wicks as far back as 4000 B.C. 

In the Middle Ages, King Charlemagne of France had a tablecloth made from asbestos to keep it from setting aflame (fires apparently occurred often during celebrations and feasts.) 

In the centuries following, asbestos has appeared in handbags, paper currency, and firefighter gear (makes sense as a fire retardant.) In short, asbestos has been in almost everything. 

Modern homes built after 1920 (to about 1989 or so) are no different. Many building materials up until the 1980s contained asbestos for strength and fire protection, which is ideal… until of course, the asbestos is disturbed from damage or a renovation. 

Despite it being used for several man-made applications, asbestos is not artificial like some insulations. It is a natural silicate mineral that is mined from the ground. 

Mining of asbestos became popular in the late 19th century. Canada’s remaining asbestos mines were shut down in 2012, but it’s still being mined in Russia and China among other countries.  

How To Check For Asbestos

There are places in your home that you may not suspect contain asbestos, but they do. For example, you know that stucco textured white ceiling in your older home? It’s also called “popcorn ceiling,” and it has asbestos. 

Other common places in the home that may contain asbestos include:

• Asbestos blankets covering pipes and boilers

• Furnace door gaskets 

• Certain floor tiles, backings of floor tiles, and some flooring adhesives

• Insulation around wood stoves

• Shingles and siding

Since many pipes and other components might not be visible to you, you may not know about them until a renovation is being performed. A good building contractor can sometimes spot asbestos, but it doesn’t mean they’re trained to get rid of it. 

How do you know whether a material contains asbestos? It’s actually difficult to tell for sure, although it looks kind of like fluffy old insulation in many cases. However, it could be hiding in solid objects like walls and tiles. First, consider the age of your home – that’s your first clue.

If your home was constructed in the past 20 or even 25 years, then it probably won’t contain any asbestos. At least, it shouldn’t contain any. 

Look for pipe insulation that seems to be flaking or disintegrating. You should also watch for insulation, walls, or vinyl floor tiles that are crumbling or falling apart. 

Health Conditions Related To Asbestos

Asbestos is dangerous when it is released into the air due to materials breaking down. You may then breathe in tiny asbestos fibers without even knowing it. 

The tiny fibers released from asbestos can get lodged in your lungs, which can cause scarring over time. This condition is also known as Interstitial Lung Disease, which is also called asbestosis. It can make it harder to breathe, as well as prevent enough oxygen from getting into your bloodstream. 

Here’s the thing about asbestos exposure: you may not have any signs of lung problems for up to 30 years after being exposed. There is no cure, but there are treatments available. 

Breathing in asbestos can also heighten the risk of lung cancer, as well as mesothelioma cancer, which is a cancer of the lung linings. In fact, the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. identified asbestos as a lung cancer risk in the early 1940s.

It can take more than a decade to develop symptoms of lung cancer related to asbestos exposure.

Canada has recently taken measures to ban asbestos-containing products. However, in the U.S., asbestos is still legal despite being recognized as a hazardous pollutant. 

It’s not just homes in Toronto that have asbestos problems – many commercial buildings do as well. In fact, research shows that asbestos exposure is the leading cause of workplace death. And experts expect asbestos-related health problems to continue, because of the delayed effects. 

Why to Hire Experts

You may be a DIY type, and that’s great. However, when you start sledge-hammering materials to make way for new features, you could unwittingly be putting yourself and your family in danger. 

You’ll want to hire a company that does testing for asbestos and can get rid of it safely before you start your renovation. In fact, it’s law in Ontario to identify any asbestos in homes built before 1986 and give this information to the home contractors. 

Without the proper gear and experience, you may be putting your health at risk if you skip this step. if you’re unsure whether your home materials contain asbestos, it’s best to leave it to the experts.

This is also a good opportunity to hire an expert to look for mold in your home that could also be causing health issues. 

Finding The Best Asbestos Removal in Toronto

There are many companies that claim to be experts in asbestos abatement, but be sure you’re dealing with a company that is certified in the practice. 

A company that offers asbestos removal in Toronto will take the proper safety measures, and will also use a vacuum during removal to ensure none of the particles escape into your home’s air. The company will also offer disposal and containment of asbestos materials, so you don’t have to deal with it. 

Asbestos removal is not expensive, but ignoring the risks and releasing it into your the air in your home or business could carry much bigger costs – like your health. 

Don’t let cracking asbestos materials or a seemingly harmless renovation affect your health. Contact us today for a free assessment.

Mildew vs Mold: What’s the Difference and When Should You Worry?

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Hanging a large mirror or painting can hide a multitude of sins, from cracks to stains. Good job? Well, not if you’re trying to cover up mold. Not only is it unsightly, but it can also cause serious health problems. 

It’s not just mold that can cause issues, mildew can as well. It’s important to understand the difference between mildew vs mold so that you know how best to treat them. Here’s the lowdown.

Mildew vs Mold

Mildew is a type of mold. Both are types of fungi which love damp surroundings and spread across surfaces easily. They can be a nuisance in the home and each of them can be a danger to health.

There are though differences between them. For example, they tend to prefer growing in slightly different places and the degree of risk they pose is also not quite the same.

Places Mold Likes to Grow

Mold will thrive in warm, dark and damp environments. That could apply to any part of your home given the right circumstances. Bathrooms and showers, mattresses on beds and insulation in your attic are common places for mold to grow.

It’s not uncommon to spot mold in damp locations like sheds, garages, and on boats.

Mold spores can be carried into your house on shoes and clothes without you ever realizing it. Once inside, if the conditions are right, mold will grow there and spread fast.

Checking for Mold in the Home

If mold isn’t stopped in its tracks, it can and will cause damage to your home. It’s wise to check for mold routinely. The main ways to do this are through sight and smell.

Mold comes in lots of colors. Black, yellow, green, and brown are but a few. When it appears on a flat surface such as a wall it generally forms irregular shapes. It can also look hazy to the naked eye. 

Mold breaks down organic material so it could be the material under the mold is rotting. This can bring with it smells due to the chemicals the mold releases. The most usual description of the odor of mold is musty. 

Places Mildew Likes to Grow

Mildew prefers flat surfaces to grow on. Any damage caused by it in the home tends to be just cosmetic. In that respect, it’s the lesser of the two evils when either of these two uninvited guests enters the home.

Outdoors, it can cause significant damage to plants. It is considered to be less of a health risk in the home than mold can be. It’s also easier to treat.

Checking for Mildew in the Home 

Mildew loves damp, warm and dark places. It thrives on flat surfaces and is commonly found on window sills and shower surrounds. It’s also found on smaller objects that have damp surfaces.

Paper, fabrics or leather which for some reason has become wet, are often targets for mildew. Mildew will grow rapidly when conditions are right. It can be powdery or have a sort of downy look about it. 

When it’s powdery, it will be white in color when it first appears, although this can change to yellow, brown, or black as it grows. The downy type of mildew begins by being yellow and then turns brown as it ages.

Like mold, mildew tends to have a musty smell. The best way to tell the difference between mold and mildew is by sight. If you’re struggling to decide, then it may be time to call the professionals who will be able to test for both. 

Harmful Effects of Mold and Mildew

Neither mold nor mildew is particularly pleasant in the wrong places. Mildew doesn’t usually leave any lasting damage to the flat surfaces it grows on such as mirrors or tiled bathroom floors. 

When inhaled mildew spores can cause coughing, headaches or breathing problems.  The adverse effects of mold are likely to be much more serious. It can cause devastating structural damage to buildings and even cars.

Mold can cause long-lasting health issues. These can range from heart problems to depression. On top of this, some people have a mold allergy. This can cause skin and eye irritations along with nasal congestion.

Mold and Mildew Prevention

The best way to stop mold and mildew getting into your home is to create an environment that they won’t like. There are lots of measures you can take to help prevent mold in the home.

Make sure your home has good air circulation and gets plenty of fresh air. Reducing humidity is key. Purchasing a dehumidifier could be a wise investment. 

You should make sure your heating and cooling systems are checked often. Keeping air ducts clean will also help to prevent spores from spreading. Ensure you have no leaks in either the bathroom or kitchen. 

Cleaning Mildew Away

Mildew is fairly easy to clean. It can be wiped away with a specialist cleaner and brush. It’s important to stay safe while you’re doing this. You should wear rubber gloves and a facial mask so that you avoid breathing in spores.

Go the extra mile and clean around any infected areas to be sure all the mildew is completely gone.

Getting Rid of Mold

If the area of mold is around ten square feet or less then generally it should be possible to clean the area yourself. This is provided you take the necessary safety precautions.

It could be you’ve had an unexpected leak and notice mold soon afterward. Fixing the leak quickly and cleaning away mold should be fine. If you’ve larger areas of mold, then it’s definitely the moment to bring in a mold remediation company

Mold can get beneath surfaces, spread quickly and survive in the toughest conditions. Even though it has its own particular smell, it’s only possible to see mold once the colonies have started to grow. 

Time to Call the Professionals

Trying to clean large areas of mold yourself is a health hazard and is unlikely to be effective. When it comes to mildew vs mold inside the home, then mildew is the easier to clean away and is less likely to cause such severe long-term health issues.

Read more here about the dangers of mold and how we can help. We are the experts. 

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How to Find the Best Mold Remediation Company

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If you suspect mold has started growing in your home, there’s a possibility of health risks. At the very least, if someone in your family has a mold allergy, they could start showing symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, and cough.

The good news is, mold removal experts can take care of the problem before it gets worse. In addition to removing the mold, professionals will address the moisture issue that caused the problem in the first place. This ensures mold doesn’t form again down the road.

However, it’s important you work with the best mold remediation company in your area. To help you out, we’re going over some tips for finding qualified professionals.

Let’s get started

Experience Is Crucial

The mold remediation process is tricky, which means you need to work with a company that has years of industry experience. This ensures they have the equipment and know-how to remove mold effectively.

You’ll want to look for someone with a long-standing reputation in your area. If you can’t tell how long they’ve been in business by looking at their website, call and ask.

You should also look for a company that has experience with a wide range of services such as mold inspection and air quality testing. This means they’ve likely seen all manner of situations and can quickly diagnose your problem.

The last thing you want is an inexperienced technician making assumptions on the best way to tackle the issue.

Check for Industry Certifications and Licenses

It’s important the mold remediation specialists you work with hold licenses and certifications. This means they’ve gone through the proper training and are highly educated.

Mold comes in many forms. Some types, such as black mold, pose a serious health threat. The company you work with needs to be able to identify molds and understand how they spread.

In addition, the best companies will have gone through adequate training on remediation techniques. This involves the decontamination process and understanding the equipment and technology involved.

When speaking with a business about treating your home, inquire about these credentials. If they can’t provide you with certifications, you should continue searching for the right company.

Ask About Insurance

In addition to holding certifications, the company you work with should also carry insurance. This protects you if any damage occurs during the mold remediation process.

Unfortunately, some disreputable businesses will tell you they have coverage just to get your business. That’s why it’s important to ask to see it. Any professional company won’t mind showing you proof.

At the very least, a company should have general liability insurance in place. You may also want to check for pollution insurance. This covers companies that handle hazardous waste, in this case, mold or asbestos.

Asking about insurance isn’t only important for protecting your property from damages. It shows that the company you’re working with is dependable and has the resources needed to protect themselves and their clients.

Read Customer Reviews

It’s now commonplace for consumers to check online reviews before buying products or hiring a company. This is a great way to get a firsthand account of the type of work a business does.

When reading customer reviews for a company, keep in mind that a few negative reviews don’t necessarily mean they provide bad service. In fact, sometimes a business’s competitors will post negative reviews to drive customers away.

Instead, pay attention to a large number of negative reviews for the same thing. For example, you may see a number of reviews about bad customer service or unexpected fees. If you encounter this, looking at other companies is probably a good idea.

Ask for References

When trying to find the best company for your needs, there’s nothing wrong with asking for references. Any reputable business won’t mind providing you with some.

Talking to references is a great way to get a sense of the type of service a company provides. When doing so, ask the past customer how they felt about the process and if the company lived up to their promises. This will instill you with peace of mind when hiring someone.

You should also check a company’s website to see if they’ve listed some of their past clients. If they’ve provided mold remediation for larger businesses, this means they have the resources and knowledge to tackle any mold issue.

Do They Guarantee Your Satisfaction?

You want to work with a company that stands by their work. If they do, they’ll offer a satisfaction guarantee to their clients.

If you don’t see proof of a guarantee on their website, ask them if they offer one. You’ll also need to get the details.

A guarantee protects you if the mold ends up returning after remediation is done. You don’t want to have to pay for service twice in a short period of time.

Companies that offer satisfaction guarantees typically take measures to ensure the work gets done right and the mold won’t return. This means repairing the areas where moisture is present.  

Get Quotes

It’s important to get quotes from every company you consider doing business with. Not only does this ensure you stay within your budget, but it also protects you from getting overcharged.

Keep in mind that the price for mold remediation will depend on how widespread the issue is. That’s why it’s important to shop around and get a sense of what the job will cost.

Obviously, you’ll want to work with a company that provides a reasonable rate. However, don’t let an extremely low quote draw you in. Some businesses do that just to get your business and then provide sub-par service.

Find an Experience Mold Remediation Company Today

When dealing with a mold issue, time is of the essence. The longer you allow it to spread, the more time-consuming and costly it’ll be to remove.

The second you notice a problem, use the tips discussed above to find the best mold remediation company in your area.

We provide mold remediation and inspection services in Toronto and surrounding areas. Contact us today set up an appointment.

mold in the home

Mold in the Home: Why is It So Dangerous?

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In the wet months of the year, nothing is more annoying to a homeowner than household mold. When it’s cold and wet outside, all we want to do is curl up with the heat cranked on and hibernate the day away. But these conditions can lead to mold in the house in no time.

It can feel like nothing is safe from mold. What starts out as a tiny spot can turn into a microbial wildfire in no time, forcing you to put your prized possessions in the garbage.

But is mold more than just an annoyance? Is it something that could potentially cause health hazards that could be detrimental to your whole family?

Read on to learn more about what to do when there is mold in the home.

What You Need to Know About Mold

Mold is a fungus made up of tiny organisms. These organisms are a crucial part of nature, as they work to break down dead things and turn them into usable energy for the earth. It thrives on moisture and creates tiny spores that move through the air.

There’s no escaping mold. It’s everywhere, and that’s a good thing. But when mold starts to creep into your house and reproduce, you could have a problem.

Mold is also adaptable. It can grow on tons of surfaces, like clothing, wood, and paper. And the way it looks changes depending on the type of mold growth in your home.

Some common appearances of molds can be colors like yellow, white, or blue. They can look rough or soft and fuzzy, depending on the type of mold and where it’s growing.

How Does Mold Get Into the Home?

Mold is sneaky. It’s had to adapt in order to survive all this time! We can’t see the tiny spores, but as we mentioned earlier, they’re everywhere.

All it takes for mold to sneak into your home is for a few spores to attach on someone or something entering your home. If you keep your windows or doors open, that’s another way for mold to creep in. We can say the same for ventilation systems.

But mold can only grow if the spores land in just the right spot. That is– places with lots of moisture and the right balance of heat and darkness. A few things for the growing spores to feed off of won’t hurt either.

Once mold starts to grow, it’s hard to miss unless it’s hidden away. On top of the changing appearance of your home, you’ll notice a musty smell.

So it sounds like mold is inescapable. So… is it really such a bad thing?

The Health Effects of Mold

While you’re not wrong in wanting a home clear of mold, that’s not to say that it all causes health problems. The average person with healthy lungs isn’t likely to experience any major health issues stemming from mold inhalation.

But mold does produce a few things that can hurt people with sensitivities. Mold creates allergens, irritants, and substances that can be toxic.

Mold can be an irritant for anything from your eyes to your throat, even if you’re not allergic to mold.

People with mold allergies can experience things liked runny or stuffy noses, itchy throats, sneezing, and watery eyes.

Another thing to consider when it comes to the level of danger surrounding mold is the lung health of the people in your family. If someone has asthma, their chances of having an asthmatic episode increase when mold is around. This is especially true if they’ve got a mold allergy.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t consider mold exposure to always be a health problem, the World Health Organization has a different take on the matter.

To the WHO, mold should be considered dangerous at all times because the environment that mold thrives in can create chemical and biological changes that pollute the air. According to the WHO, they consider people who are in contact with mold at risk for respiratory health issues.

How to Protect the Home From Mold

Whether or not two of the world’s leading health organizations can agree on the dangers associated with mold, it’s important to take care of it right away.

The best way to fight against mold is to stop it before it starts to grow in your house. And while you can’t stop the spores from attaching to your clothing or sneaking in through an open window, you can eliminate the environment that mold likes to grow in.

Make sure that your home doesn’t have a ton of wet areas or places that stay damp for a long time. Ventilate your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room. Also, you should do whatever you can to make sure that outdoor water stays outdoors.

What to Do if You Find Mold in the Home

If you think you might have an issue of mold in the home, you can probably take care of it yourself. Spray an antimicrobial agent onto the mold and scrub it thoroughly with a brush. It’s a good idea to wear protective gear while you do this, just in case.

When you’re done, make sure you wash your clothes so the mold spores don’t follow you to other areas of your house.

If your mold issue is too big for you to handle alone, you can always call a professional for help.

The Truth About Household Mold

The growth of mold in the home is never a pleasant sight. No one likes walking into their home knowing that the air is musty and that there’s an unsightly patch of mold growing somewhere. However, just because it’s ugly doesn’t mean it’s going to pose a threat to your health.

You should always take care of any mold issues as soon as they arise, regardless of whether you’re allergic to it.

For more information about restoring a damaged area of your home, give us a call today!