MOLD AND YOUR HEALTH
A home is your castle and a place to hang your hat. You spend a great deal of time in your home among your loved ones. Home is where your heart is, and, more importantly, home is where your health is.
A healthy environment is key to raising a healthy family
What exactly is mold? Mold is actually a fungus that loves to grow in damp and moist places. It is often found in basements where there has been a water leak. Mold generally comes in many colours—commonly seen is black or white and appears in a stain or smudge like pattern. The smell of mold is quite distinct and is often a familiar musty odor.
In order for mold to flourish, it requires moisture and some material to live on. Once found, it releases ‘spores’ which are easily breathed in from the air. It is large amounts of these spores coupled with other by-products, which may become a health hazard. Mold can develop into a serious problem if it is not caught early on and the source eliminated. Common places for mold to grow indoors are on windowsills, fabrics, carpets, and walls in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry, and basements.
A person may respond to mold in different ways, depending upon the amount of exposure and the person's overall health. Some people are more vulnerable to the effects of mold than others. This includes children, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system or other medical condition(s), such as asthma, severe allergies or other respiratory conditions.
The presence of mold in the home may result in increased symptoms including:
- -irritation of eyes, nose and throat
- -coughing or wheezing
- -shortness of breath
- -asthma and other allergic reactions
If these symptoms arise, there is a good possibility that your home has mold and your health needs to be monitored by a health care provider.
HOME INSPECTION AND MOLD
When it comes to doing a house inspection, what is the inspector responsible for?
The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI) is a non-profit organization created by the provincial government in 1994. It is a professional organization established to provide a ‘voice to home inspectors in Ontario.’ One of the goals of the OAHI is to establish a Standards of Practice, which provides inspection guidelines and lays out a Code of Conduct, which governs this profession. According to the Standard of Practice outlined by the OAHI, a certified home inspector is NOT required to:
“Determine the presence of any environmental hazards including, but not limited to toxins, carcinogens, noise, and contaminants in soil, water, and air.” As well a home inspector is “not required to determine indoor air quality.”
In conducting a routine home inspection, a home inspector is not able to detect mold growth from behind walls, in the ceiling or in insulation. A home inspector may not be able to detect former flooding in the basement area as well as hidden leaks or suspected leaks, which may all serve as breeding ground for mold growth.
Mold testing can be done through an independent lab. Samples may be collected and tested for an additional fee. The lab can determine, through testing if there is mold present and once detected, arrangements can be made for removal. Mold remediation may be required in extreme cases of mold growth resulting from ‘marijuana grow operations’ or drug houses.