The wet season is upon us again in Victoria, and with it come a series of issues for new and old homes alike. One such issue which has received much attention in the media lately and something we are seeing more and more of as we inspect homes, is toxic mold. Sub-standard building practices, age and weathering are all factors that create the perfect environment for mold to flourish. Mold needs four things to grow: mold spores, mold food, warm temperatures and considerable moisture. Mold food is any substance that is porous in nature and is or once was an organic material. Paper, wood and drywall are all considered mold food. Most of us live in homes that are made up of mostly mold food.
Concern about indoor exposure has increased largely due to public awareness that exposure to mold can cause a variety of adverse health effects. There are thousands of species of mold. Most of the mold found indoors comes from outdoor sources. Mold grows and becomes a problem when there is water damage, high humidity, or dampness. In any case, molds’ growth in the indoor environment should be considered unacceptable due to the potential for adverse health effects.
Some indoor types of mold are capable of producing extremely potent toxins (mycotoxins) that are lipid-soluble and readily absorbed by the intestinal lining, airways, and skin. These toxins, usually contained in the fungal spores, have effects ranging from short-term irritation to immunosuppression and cancer. In large epidemiologic studies, these symptoms have been associated with moisture damage and moldy buildings.
Conditions that may arise from moldy environments are:
⦁ Nasal and sinus congestion
⦁ Cough/sore throat
⦁ Chest tightness
⦁ Dyspnea (breathing difficulty)
⦁ Asthma (or exacerbation of it)
⦁ Epistaxis (nosebleed)
⦁ Upper respiratory tract infections
⦁ Skin and eye irritation
All fungi have defined cell walls, lack chlorophyll and reproduce by means of spores. The most effective way to manage mold in your home is to eliminate or limit the conditions that foster its establishment and growth.
Most active mold colonies appear greenish to black, typical of mold growing on bathroom tile grout. Whereas the characteristics of mold colonies growing behind vinyl wall coverings or drywall in buildings takes on different characteristics -these mold outbreaks typically result in pinkish to yellowish staining. These visual colour variations are important because they indicate serious, detrimental moisture accumulations within the gypsum wall board behind the wall covering that cannot be removed by your air conditioning or dehumidification systems. Instead they require the assistance of professionals equipped with pressure measurement and other diagnostic equipment to determine the source of moisture causing the problem. The cause of the initial leak is a good place to start.
Ways to help prevent mold from forming
Redirect water away from the home’s exterior — redirect sprinklers so that they don’t spray on the walls. Do not landscape with hills that direct water flow towards the home. Use gutters and a properly functioning gutter system. Keep down-spouts free of debris and direct outflow away from the home. Get your perimeter drains camera inspected a minimum of every 2-3 years and regularly check your home’s foundation from the inside basement or crawl space to look for warning signs. Even small water leaks can cause mold problems. Rainwater leaks from improperly flashed windows or chimneys, wall and roof penetrations and plumbing leaks should be promptly repaired. Periodically inspect under sinks and vanities for signs of water leakage. Use your nose and smell for musty or earthy odours – they usually indicate the presence of mold. Have your chimney inspected regularly and fix all water leaks promptly. Water damage from flooding or other major water intrusion in homes should be dried within 24 hours. If severe flooding and severe water damage is present for more than 48 hours, a trained restoration professional should be consulted regarding cleanup procedures.
To remediate problematic mold growth, mold should be removed from materials that can be effectively cleaned. Materials that cannot be cleaned or are physically damaged beyond use should be discarded. To change the growth cycle you must first change its environment.
Often homeowners are unaware that bleach is not an effective way to remove mold from porous surfaces. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by the Oregon State University, on the effects of chlorine bleach for mold growth on Douglas fir. The research study was conducted by Professor Jeffrey Morrell, Dept. of Wood Science, Oregon State University published in the Forest Products Journal, 2004. “While bleach is often recommended for re-mediation of surface mold on wood, our [university research study] results illustrate that the treatment does not eliminate the surface microflora.
Bleach as a mold disinfectant is best used on hard surfaces such as in the kitchen and bathroom for counter tops, tubs and shower glass, and other hard surfaces. In addition, successful mold re-mediation is much more than simply killing mold. Responding to mold problems requires a series of actions. The order in which actions take place is often important. Typically, the following actions are implemented to some extent regardless of whether a problem is small and simple or large and complex:
⦁ Take emergency actions to stop water intrusion if needed.
⦁ Identify vulnerable populations, extent of contamination and moisture dynamic.
⦁ Plan and implement re-mediation activities.
⦁ Eliminate or limit moisture sources and dry the materials.
⦁ Decontaminate or remove damaged materials as appropriate.
⦁ Evaluate whether space has been successfully .
⦁ Reassemble the space to prevent or limit possibility of recurrence by controlling the sources of and moisture and nutrients.
If there is mold in your home or you have any warning signs there is moisture present it is imperative you have it looked at immediately. The team at Flintstones has you covered, with many solutions available to aid your home or workplace. Call our office today to have a trained professional assess your situation and come up with an effective solution.