Toronto Mold F.A.Q. and Mold Information

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What is mold?
Mold is a very large group of microscopic fungi that thrive on moist
and pourous matter such as wet drywall and damp wood. Molds are filamentous
and thus have a large surface area to produce spores that can be toxic to
humans. Spores are easily spread by air, water, and insects.

Is mold in my home?

Airborne mold spores are everywhere both indoors and outdoors. The risk
to a person’s health is seriously elevated when levels of mold spores
indoors is greater than outdoor levels. Air sampling during a mold inspection will
compare indoor mold spore levels to outdoor mold spore levels.

Are there common indoor molds?
There are many common indoor molds, however, the most dangerous
of indoor molds are Alternaria, Aspergillus, Chaetomium, Cladosporium,
Fusarium, Mucor, Penicillium, and Stachybotrys. Mold sampling and
lab analysis are required to identify specific mold species and
their concentrations in the air.

Is the mold in the air a risk to my health?
Molds spores can cause serious health problems even when the spores
are not viable (not alive) or dormant (inactive while waiting for
more moisture to resume growth). Inhaling, ingesting or touching
both non-viable and dormant molds can make a mold-sensitive person
ill.

What levels of mold spores can make me sick?
Levels that determine safe and unsafe amounts of mold indoors have
not yet been established. Health Canada has no absolute levels for
safe or unsafe mold levels inside a home or building. Because everyone’s
immune system is different, what might be a harmless amount of mold
exposure to one occupant can be devastating health-wise to another
person.

Who is more susceptible to mold?

Mold infestation puts certain individuals at a higher risk to the
toxic effects including:
1> Individuals with existing respiratory conditions, such as
allergies, chemical sensitivities, or asthma.

2> Persons
with weakened immune systems (such as people with HIV infection,
cancer chemotherapy patients, and so forth).
3> Infants and young children
4> The elderly
5> Anyone with health problems they believe are due to mold should
consult a medical professional.

Repeated exposure to high levels of mold spores can also have serious
effects on a “healthy” individual.

How can I get rid of the mold in my home?
It is impossible to get rid of all mold spores indoors. Some mold
spores will always be present in house dust and floating in the
air. The mold spores will not grow into mold colonies if there is
insufficient moisture. Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented
or controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If organic materials
are wet for more than 24 hours, mold growth can begin.

How does mold grow?
Mold grows by consuming and decaying organic building materials
and other cellulose-based materials such as carpeting, upholstery,
and clothing. The longer the mold grows, the more mold damage to
the building.

What is cellulose?
Cellulose is the main substance in the cell walls of plants (and
thus of wood), and it is used in the manufacture of many organic
building materials such as drywall, plasterboard, plywood substitutes,
and ceiling tiles.

Where does mold grow?
Mold can grow hidden and undetected inside wall and ceiling cavities;
beneath wallpaper, paneling, and carpeting; and inside heating and
cooling equipment and ducts, attics, crawl spaces, and basements.

What causes mold to grow in a building?
Mold growth is often the result of a structural defect in a home
or building, or of poor maintenance or neglect that allows moisture
to enter the building. The owner or employer must first fix the
water problem (roof leak, plumbing leak, high indoor humidity) that
enables the mold to grow. Mold removal is useless until the moisture
problem is rectified.

Should I have my house air tested for mold?

Air sampling requires specialized equipment. An air sample typically
captures mold spores in a period of minutes. Since replicate samples
must be taken due to variations in the airborne molds over time
(even hours) and compared with outdoor samples.

What advantages do HEPA vacuums provide?

Ordinary vacuums capture large particles only—small mold spores
pass through the vacuum into the air. HEPA vacuums have special
filters that capture small particles. A central vacuum cleaner which
is exhausted to the outside also removes mold spores. A regular
portable vacuum is useful only if its exhaust goes outside the home.
Vacuuming removes settled dust that contains an accumulation of
mold spores over time. Reducing the settled dust reduces molds.
Vacuuming with any vacuum cleaner (ordinary, central or HEPA) stirs
dust and mold during the process. Wear a dust mask so you will not
be breathing more mold.

Is vacuuming with a HEPA or externally exhausted vacuum
cleaner recommended for serious mold problems only?

Vacuum regularly with a HEPA or externally exhausted vacuum cleaner
to prevent the ongoing accumulation of dust and molds. The need
for HEPA or external exhaust vacuuming increases with the severity
of the mold problem.
If a furnishing has been wet at some time in the past or has been
exposed to dampness over a prolonged period of time, vacuuming with
HEPA or externally exhausted vacuum is unlikely to remove the mold
growing beneath the surface. It is better to discard the item.