cleanfirst

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.

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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!

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How to Identify Asbestos in Your Home and Other Obvious Signs

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Do you have any major home repair projects coming up? Are you 100% sure that your home is free of all toxins?

Almost 250,000 homes across Canada have some asbestos in their tiles, plumbing, or insulation. If your home was built prior to 1986, you’re at high risk for asbestos in the home.

If you’re wondering how to identify asbestos, this article’s for you. We’ll give you the straight scoop on asbestos in the home and help you get started with a local asbestos removal company.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a combination of six naturally-occurring minerals. It has been in use for more than 100 years. It resists heat and has been used in thousands of products including roofing material, hair dryers, and brake pads.

The reason it was used for so long is that it’s resistant to heat and extremely strong and durable. In the last few decades, however, researchers noticed that tiny particles of asbestos break off when it gets moved or damaged.

Those tiny particles float through the air and become lodged in people’s lungs, causing serious illnesses like asbestosis and mesothelioma. In fact, asbestos exposure is the only way that a person can get mesothelioma, an uncommon form of lung cancer.

Signs of Asbestos in Homes

If your home was built before 1986, there’s a good chance that you’ve got asbestos somewhere in your home. The good news is that asbestos doesn’t become dangerous until you disturb it.

If your insulation is in good shape, you don’t have to worry about microscopic particles. However, you should take the time to get a professional evaluation. It can be hard to tell if you’ve got asbestos without an outside lab test.

Potential sources of asbestos include heating ducts that have a distinctive white tape on them, boiler insulation materials, “acoustic” tiles on your ceiling, and asbestos-filled concrete or cement siding.

There is also some cause for concern if your floor tiles measure exactly nine inches by nine inches. Of course, not every floor tile of this size contains asbestos, but it’s still worth checking out if your tiles are that size and in bad shape.

Other potential locations of asbestos in homes include a “popcorn” ceiling, attic insulation that contains vermiculite, and floor mastic.

Again, you don’t have to worry about asbestos removal if your home is in good shape. You may want to have it removed to ensure it won’t be a problem.

If you’re thinking of starting a home improvement project, it’s probably best to wait for the lab results.

How to Identify Asbestos Poisoning

If you’ve been exposed to asbestos for years, you do have a risk of asbestos poisoning. Asbestosis is a serious condition that you might not realize you have. The problem is that it can seem like mold poisoning.

Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath, a persistent cough, and a feeling of constriction in your chest. You may also notice that your fingers have become wider at the tips, a phenomenon known as “clubbing.”

People who work near asbestos are at a higher risk for asbestosis and mesothelioma, but your home could still be making you sick. If you worked in construction, on a ship, or as an asbestos removal technician, you have a higher chance for serious illness.

If you have asbestos insulation in poor condition that’s close to your furnace, there’s a good chance that it’s airborne. Your first step is to figure out whether your home has asbestos in it. If you have symptoms of asbestos poisoning, you should immediately see a doctor.

Is There a Certification for Asbestos Removal?

When it’s time to find an asbestos removal specialist, you should make sure they’re certified. There is a certification process for asbestos removal and certain steps that contractors need to follow.

Before you get started with removal, your assessment company should provide you with a detailed, written record of the asbestos in your home. They should definitely test all suspected materials within your home.

You should use a different removal company than your assessment company. This step will make sure you’re only getting the removal services that you need.

Also, make sure that your removal company is accredited, bonded, and insured. You should ask for local references and client testimonials. If they can’t provide references, it’s time to find another contractor.

When the contractor is doing work in your home, it’s vital that they seal off the area they’re working on. The last thing you want is for airborne asbestos to contaminate the rest of your home.

They should seal off all wall vents, wall outlets, and windows. Make sure that children and pets are also removed from the area.

Home-based asbestos is not as common as asbestos in commercial buildings, but it’s still important that your removal company has a good reputation.

Asbestos that’s in good condition doesn’t need to be removed. In fact, disturbing it could kick up the airborne particles that cause disease.

Find a Local Asbestos Removal Company

In general, you should get your home’s air quality tested at least once per year. You could have dust, mold, or other toxins contaminating your indoor air.

If you are wondering how to identify asbestos in your office or retail store, leave it to the professionals. They’ll perform laboratory tests and give you a blueprint for asbestos removal, just like your home.

We’ve been serving the greater Toronto area for more than 29 years. We offer indoor air quality testing, mold remediation, and asbestos removal.

All of our mold technicians are certified, and we’re also certified for asbestos removal. If your property was built before 1986, you have a much higher chance of having asbestos materials like on drywall compound, flooring,and insulation.

It’s important to invest in asbestos removal because it can take years before you see symptoms. The sooner we can get your home back to normal, the better you’ll feel.

We offer asbestos assessments, so give us a call or send us an email online. We’ll gladly come out and evaluate your home’s condition right away.

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Why Indoor Air Quality is So Important

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 4.3 million people die every year from indoor air pollution.

Nearly 34% die from stroke, 26% from heart disease, 22% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 12% from pneumonia, and 6% from lung cancer.

Although when we think of pollution, we tend to imagine smoke-filled skies and car exhaust, there is also the hidden danger of indoor air pollution.

Indoor air quality is more important than you think. Want to learn more? Read on to learn why indoor air quality is important and ways to improve your home air quality.

What Causes Indoor Air Pollution?

Indoor air pollution occurs when particles and gases are present in indoor living areas. There are many different causes of poor indoor air quality. Read on to learn about some of the most common pollutants.

Cigarette Smoke

Secondhand smoke is a serious contributor to indoor air pollution.

Cigarette smoke has thousands of toxic chemicals such as ammonia, carbon monoxide, cyanide, and lead. People who don’t smoke breathe in the same hazardous chemicals as smokers do.

According to WHO, 3,000 people die every year from lung cancer due to indoor air pollution caused by secondhand smoke. Compare this to the 100 lung cancer deaths every year caused from outdoor air pollution.

Asbestos

Asbestos is a group of silicate minerals that was used in construction material. In Canada, a variety of products used asbestos such as building insulation, industrial heating systems, floor tiles, and even car brake pads.

Canada was the top producer and exporter of chrysotile asbestos in the world.

However, when asbestos fibers become disturbed, such as during construction or remodeling, microscopic fibers can get into the lungs and result in a type of deadly cancer called mesothelioma.

In fact, because of the high rate of asbestos production, mesothelioma rates in Canada are one of the highest in the world. About 2.1 out of 100,000 Canadians become diagnosed with mesothelioma every year.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas. It can come from sources such as gas stoves, automobile exhaust, and leaking furnaces.

At low and moderate amounts, carbon monoxide results in fatigue, problems with vision, and reduced brain function. At higher levels, this toxic gas results in headaches, dizziness, loss of consciousness, and death.

Biological Pollutants

Biological pollutants are microbes in the air such as mold, dust, bacteria, and viruses. These pollutants come from many different sources. Viruses travel from person to person. Mold grows from moisture.

Dust comes from normal human activity. Pollen and pet dander comes from your pets and plants. All these pollutants are particles in the air and are present in your indoor air.

Why is Indoor Air Quality Important?

According to the EPA, research indicates that indoor air quality is worse than outdoor air quality.

Improving indoor air quality is important because of the associated health dangers of indoor air pollution. For example, secondhand smoke causes similar health issues that smoking does such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and lung cancer.

Read on to see the most serious problems that poor indoor air quality contributes to.

Serious Diseases

Indoor air pollution exposure nearly doubles the risk of pneumonia in children. In fact, indoor air pollution causes 45% of all childhood pneumonia deaths. Poor air quality contributes to 28% of pneumonia deaths in adults.

Other serious diseases from indoor air pollution include stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), ischaemic heart disease, and lung cancer.

Asthma

Indoor air pollution can make asthma symptoms worse. Research reveals that individuals with moderate to severe asthma had a 40% higher chance of suffering from an asthma episode on summer days with high pollution than on summer days with normal pollution levels.

Allergies

If you have allergies, biological contaminants such as mold and pet dander can cause allergic reactions. Mold can even cause irritation of the eyes and skin.

What Can You Do to Improve Indoor Air Quality?

Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve indoor air quality and reduce the risks of indoor air pollution. Here are some steps you can take.

Don’t Allow Smoking in Your Home

One of the top ways you can drastically reduce indoor air pollution is to keep your home smoke-free.

If you smoke, you should quit, or at least don’t smoke inside your home. For guests who smoke, insist that they stay outside while smoking.

Check Your Home for Asbestos

You should have your house checked for asbestos. If your home was built before 1986, there is a high chance it may have asbestos.

If there is asbestos present in your home, you should have it removed by professionals only as these fibers can be dangerous when disturbed.

Keep Humidity at the Right Level

According to the EPA, you should keep your humidity levels at home between 30% to 50%. You can use moisture meters to check levels. This can help prevent mold.

Other tips for mold prevention include using ventilation in areas like the bathroom and kitchen. You should also check your home for leaky pipes or faucets.

Keep Your Home Clean

Regularly vacuum and dust your home to keep away dust, pet dander, and other contaminants.

You should vacuum carpeted areas at least twice a week with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. If possible, consider installing hardwood or any other non-carpet flooring throughout your home.

You should also wash your linens and beddings regularly. Another tip is to have a clutter-free home. Clutter attracts dust and allergens.

Keep Your Windows Open

When possible, keep your windows open to let in fresh air. During warmer months, turn on the ceiling fans to circulate the air. When cooking, use fans and proper ventilation.

Have Your Indoor Air Quality Tested

To know for sure what pollutants are lurking in your home, you should have your indoor air quality tested.

If you know what contaminants are in the air, you can take the steps to remove them and create a healthy indoor environment for your home.

Have questions or concerns about your indoor air quality? Contact us to learn more.