Q. Do I have a mould problem?
A. If you answer yes to any of the following, then you may have a mould problem. Do you have chronic flu-like symptoms? Sore throat, cough, headaches, runny nose, watery eyes, always tired and lethargic? Or do you notice a stuffy or urine-like odour when you first enter your home from outside? If so, mould may be the cause. Some of the most common building moulds thrive on cellulose. Cellulose is found in the paper backing on wallboard, in carpeting, underlay and particle board. When mould digests these materials, various chemicals in these materials are released into the air, as a byproduct of the ‘mould process’. In the case of OSB (oriented strand board), (commonly used in place of plywood in modern homes), the glues used in the manufacture of the OSB almost always contain a chemical called urea. As the mould digests the cellulose, it emits the urea as a gas, resulting in a stale urine-like odour. Therefore, this type of odour may be a symptom of actively growing mould.
Q. What is toxic mould? (Sometimes called black mould)
A. Under certain conditions, some species of moulds (generally referred to as toxic moulds) may generate molecular compounds called mycotoxins. In large quantities or with chronic exposure, mycotoxins can be toxic (poisonous) to humans and animals. Mycotoxins can have both chronic and acute effects on human and animal health.
Q. Where did the mould in my home (or workplace) come from?
A. Mould spores are always present in both outdoor and indoor air. Unless certain conditions exist, mould cannot grow and the naturally-occurring, low levels of mould normally found in indoor air will not be a problem. However, under certain conditions, these floating spores take root and begin to form colonies. This process of mould growth requires 3 things to occur -
Q. If I can't see any mould, how can it affect me?
A. Most mould spores are a fraction of the size of a human hair. Mould is only slightly larger than viruses and bacteria. It floats everywhere, passes through walls, most materials such as paints and even most plastics! The 3 most common health problems caused by mould are:
Q. What is the difference between viable mould and non-viable mould?
A. Viable mould is mould that is actively growing and is capable of reproducing. This form of mould generally causes more significant health problems than non-viable mould. Non-viable mould is simply mould which has become dormant; due to a lack of one or more of the prerequisite requirements: temperature, nutrient and/or moisture. However, non-viable mould is NOT dead. It can still cause significant health problems and will begin growing again, even after many years of dormancy, when conditions are again favourable. In some respects, mould is more dangerous in its non-viable form, because it has dried into a fine dust and can easily migrate to another location if there is the slightest air current.
Q. What Can I Do? What is involved in removing mould?
Q. Is it OK to have the same company do both inspection/testing and repairs?
A. Most professional associations discourage (or even prohibit) their members from wearing both hats for obvious reasons. It isn't unusual for mould remediation costs in a large home or commercial premise to reach or exceed $50,000 - $100,000! So there could be a temptation to exaggerate the inspection results in order to justify expensive and unnecessary repairs. Similarly, there may be a temptation by the contractor to cut corners on proper (expensive) cleanup procedures - which has been known to result in the entire building being contaminated! Finally, reconstruction should never be authorized until an independent inspection company confirms that the cleanup has in fact been properly completed. Again, this is where the mould dog is the ideal solution to ensure that all sources of contamination – invisible or not - have been identified and removed.
Q. Finally, what can I do to prevent mould?
Since mould spores are like dust and can be found everywhere, the real question is: How can I prevent mould from becoming a problem?
A. The single, most important thing you can do is to ensure that relative humidity is never excessive (never above 60%) and that any leaks are repaired immediately. (Mould will ALWAYS begin growing in ANY temperate location and on ANY substance where moisture has been standing for 24 - 48 hours - as long as there is a food source (cellulose, dust, etc).
In summary, Why a Mould Dog?
Q. Is the dog affected by the mould?
A. A trained scent dog ‘sniffs’ the air to detect an odour, whether that odour is fire accelerants, explosives, a cadaver, illicit drugs, cancer, termites or any other odour that the animal has been trained to detect. These dogs do not have to ‘breathe’ the air in order to do their job. They use their olfactory glands to analyze the air, detecting odours in parts per trillion – an absolutely minute quantity, less than even the most sensitive detection devices can measure! Which means that they require only a few moments in a room to alert to an odour.
Nevertheless, the dog is never taken into any area: a) which contains visible mould b) where the handler would need to wear a mask or respirator due to unpleasant odours c) which has been declared unfit for human habitation In all of these cases, the mould contamination is so severe that extensive reconstruction is a certainty and therefore the dog serves no useful purpose.
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