Home Inspections in Niagara, Hamilton, Halton, GTA – mold, Asbestos and radon inspections across Ontario

Mold Inspections

Not all moulds are bad moulds

Molds (or moulds) are naturally occurring organisms that we couldn’t live without.  They play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter into nutrients which go back into the soil to promote further growth.

Some moulds are even used in the production of foods.  Penicillium Roqueforti and Penicillium Glaucum are the blue molds used for production of blue-veined cheeses.  Without mould we wouldn’t have bread, yoghurt, kefir (sour-milk and sour-cream), cheese, beer, wine, dry-cured meats or sauerkraut.

However there are some moulds that are considered more dangerous.  These moulds are ones that produce mycotoxins and aflatoxins. These toxins may effect our respiratory system and in some cases even act as carcinogens. Not all molds produce these toxins.  The ones that do needs to be treated with care.

How Mould grows

Two things which all moulds need to survive are water and organic material.  Different moulds will grow at different temperatures, but all need food and water.  Pretty much the same as us.  Unlike us, some moulds will thrive in areas where there is little or no oxygen.

The main difference is in the reproductive cycle of mould.

stachybotrys chartarum spores
Stachybotrys Chartarum spores
(black mould or more commonly
and incorrectly called toxic mould)

Moulds reproduce by releasing spores, these can be looked at (from a very rudimentary perspective) as the fertilized eggs of mould.Unlike other types of “egg”, mould spores are highly resistant and durable. They can remain dormant for years in even hot and dry environments.

As soon as sufficient water and nutrients are available, and the right temperature occurs the spores burst into life.

stachbotrys-hyphae
Stachbotrys hyphae
The spores “germinate” and grow into what is known as a germ tube.  The germ tube grows into a stem like organisms with what appears to be a shrub outcrop, this stem, which grows both into the food source and onto the surface called the hyphae.
stachy-on-the-wall The mould becomes visible to the naked eye when large clumps of these hyphae grow together and for a mycelium.  Mushrooms are a good example of mycelia.  Unfortunately, given the right conditions, so is Stachybotrys
What makes mould dangerous?

What makes mould dangerous?

Once mould has reached the mycelium stage, it is already producing millions of spores.   The problem, even before then, as part of the process of infesting and reproduction, mould produces chemical excrement in the form of mycotoxins and aflatoxins as explained above.

It is these toxins that humans, and our pets can have allergic reactions to.  Some so severe as to be life-threatening.

Typical conditions described by people with an intolerance to mould are cold and flu-like symptoms, memory loss, muscle aches, sore throats, diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, dermatitis, intermittent local hair loss, cancer, and generalized malaise.   Pretty much the snake oil of disease.

In lab tests high concentrations have shown to cause destruction of the immune system affecting the lymphoid tissue and the bone marrow. Animals injected with the toxin from this fungus exhibited the following symptoms: necrosis and hemorrhage within the brain, thymus, spleen, intestine, lung, heart, lymph node, liver, and kidney. Affects by absorption of the toxin in the human lung are known as pneumomycosis.  Stachybotrys has also been implicated in a cluster of fatal pulmonary hemorrhage/hemosiderosis among infants.

Should you test for mould?

Should you test for mould?

Current evidence indicates that, with few exception, allergies are the type of diseases most often associated with molds. Since the susceptibility of individuals can vary greatly either because of the amount or type of mold, sampling and culturing are not reliable in determining your health risk.

If you are susceptible to mold and mold is seen or smelled, there is a potential health risk, if you suspect mould, a qualified Indoor Air Consultant (IAC) can inspect and give you advice on where mould might be coming from, how it could be growing and what can be done to remove it.

No matter what type of mould is present, if you have allergies or a compromised immune system, you should arrange for the mould to be removed.

That said, if you are engaging a contractor to remove mould, you need to be able to measure the effectiveness of the removal project.  This would require sampling of the areas before and after.  Sometimes, in  an honest attempt to remove mould, the area can be made worse, and actually end up encouraging mould growth.

Who should perform mould sampling?

Who should perform mould sampling?

As with all professions, you should try to avoid a conflict of interest.  If your Indoor Air Consultant (IAC) is also a re-mediator, can you be certain that their findings and analysis of those findings are not just to encourage you to spend money with them?

If you have an indoor air concern, you are better to call in an independent qualified Indoor Air Consultant (IAC), who can give impartial advice, and provide independent testing.   They will also give you unbiased analysis based upon your circumstances.   With no concerns about whether they are going to get work to remove mould, you are more likely to get a no-nonsense opinion from them.

What's the best type of sampling?

What’s the best type of sampling?

There are several methods of sampling for mould.   Each method depends uniquely on the reason for the sample and the circumstances of the area and inhabitants of the areas to be tested.

Regardless of the type of testing, it is important that your Indoor Air Consultant (IAC) has the skills and understanding to discuss with you what may be needed, how it should be done and often more importantly, that you should do nothing.

A good Indoor Air Consultant will not think twice before telling you to save your money on testing when it’s not needed.  They will, as part of a call-out fee advise you on cleaning up small areas of concern and prevention of re-growth, and save you the added expense and anguish of waiting for laboratory tests and the analysis of the reports.

Having said that, if you do need to have sampling performed, your IAC should be capable of identifying the need for comprehensive testing, baseline analysis, surface and air sampling as well as ventilation flow patterns and Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOC) production of moulds.   They should also be prepared to advise you on the differences between viable and non-viable sampling and the differences one might see in the spore counts using the different methods, and why.

Why use FPPI?

Future Proof Property Inspection Indoor Air Consultants are continuously updating their education.  Certified by different associations and labs, our IAC Inspectors are independent of any remediation.

We do not provide any form of remediation, rehabilitation, or removal of any Indoor Air Quality  contaminant but are fully trained in handling and sampling of all.  Whether you need professional sampling of Mould, Asbestos, Aldehydes, VoC’s or heavy metals, we can provide unbiased independent consultancy and sampling.  We use only Canadian Accredited laboratories, with the current exception of long-term Radon testing where the Canadian Accreditation process is considered behind that of the U.S.