Testing Air Quality for Mold
An indoor air quality test can make a huge difference when mold growth is suspected but no visible signs of growth are present. Mold releases tiny spores into the air to attach to carriers, but typically float through the air until they find a new home to colonize, thereby affecting air quality, and making an air test your best line of defense against continued mold growth.
When it comes to mold, the more information you know, the better able you are to deal with the problem. A professional mold inspection and air test will help you not only confirm the presence of these spores, but also pinpoint the type and amount of spores present. This not only helps us design an efficient remediation plan, but it also helps you feel confident and safe in your home.
Reasons for mold growth
Moisture issues and lack of ventilation are two common causes for mold growth, but are easily fixable to improve the health of your home and family.
Homes with high humidity and moisture are often plagued with mold problems. Moisture and water damage due to floods and leaks are the single most common cause for mold growth in the GTA. Mold spores can remain inactive for years - until they are exposed to water or moisture in the form of humidity or condensation, which can then restart its growth. Mold and moisture can damage the structure of your home and lead to expensive renovations and remediation.
Reducing the amount of moisture in your home by installing ventilation, running dehumidifiers, airing out after a flood, and promptly fixing leaks can all make a huge difference in preventing mold growth. Places that commonly suffer from excess moisture in GTA homes are basements, bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, and attics.
Lack of ventilation:
Mold thrives in places that are airless because air helps to dry out excess moisture. Places in the home where a lack of ventilation are commonly found are the basement and the bathroom.
The basement is a classic problem area for mold growth - it stays cool all year round, often has moisture problems due to leaks or floods, and has reduced traffic and ventilation. Opening windows or installing additional ventilation can make a big difference in keeping the basement dry, and dehumidifiers can greatly benefit homeowners with older properties.
The bathroom can also suffer from mold growth due to a lack of ventilation. The water in sinks, bathtubs, showers and toilets create the potential for steam and leaks. Installing an exhaust fan can help whisk moisture-laden air out, and bring fresh air into small areas like the bathroom.
Common indoor air pollutants
An indoor air quality test can detect chemicals, allergens, and particles present in your home’s environment. Health problems caused by air pollution is a growing problem around the world, and is not limited to places with loose health regulations or rampant pollution. We spend up to 90% of our time indoors, so healthy indoor air quality is a priority we all need to take seriously. Some of the indoor air pollutants that commonly appear in our testing services include:
Commonly used until the ‘90s in everything from roofing tiles to pipe insulation, asbestos breaks down as it ages, and its tiny fibres are easily inhaled and become lodged in our lungs. Asbestos causes long term lung damage as well as a fatal cancer called mesothelioma. Asbestos is so dangerous that it’s treated as toxic waste, making it imperative that you test for it before any renovations or major work in older homes.
There are hundreds of varieties of mold that can affect our homes, but only a handful that are truly dangerous - black mold being one of them. This type of mold is so dangerous, it produces mycotoxins - airborne poisons that have serious effects on our brains, lungs, skin, eyes, and nose. These mycotoxins can affect our four-legged friends as well, and can result in acute and long term health problems for the whole family.
Most of us remember formaldehyde from high school science - frogs and mice preserved in a colourless liquid. But outside of the classroom, formaldehyde is used in a number of different products and materials that we regularly encounter in our homes. Formaldehyde is a useful preservative that is found in wood, paints, glues, fabric, and paper, among other things, however, it is a known carcinogen and quickly breaks down in the air, and is easily absorbed into our bodies.
Like asbestos, paint containing lead from the 1960s and earlier has now aged and is causing serious long term health problems for people across the world. Lead paint chips, flakes, and dust are easily ingested or breathed in, and absorbed into the bloodstream. Infants, children and pregnant women have the highest risk of complications from lead exposure, which can lead to serious learning and cognitive disabilities. There is no known safe level of exposure!
Volatile Organic Compounds:
One of the best ways to improve your indoor air quality is to reduce the number of Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. These common gases are emitted from any number of safe or unsafe products in our homes. While the scent of a freshly-cut orange may be relatively benign, there are other VOCs that come from cleaning solutions, varnishes, waxes, disinfectants, degreasers, and any number of other common household agents. These VOCs can be harmful, and can cause immediate irritation to the mucous membranes, as well as skin and eyes; long-term exposure can affect internal organs like the kidney and liver, as well as the central nervous system.
Ways to improve your indoor air quality
Many common household materials or products that off-gas or release harmful chemicals, and it may seem difficult to improve indoor air quality - but it’s actually quite easy to make simple changes that have immediate positive effects. Some of the best ways to improve your indoor air quality include:
Change your furnace filters:
The filter on your furnace is there for a good reason: it catches any pollens, dust, and other particles before they enter your furnace and HVAC system. It’s recommended that you change your furnace filter every three months to keep you (and your furnace) happy and healthy.
It may seem obvious, but a clean house is a healthy house. Sweeping up reduces dust and pet dander as well as helping to prevent dust mites. Vacuuming followed by a damp mop can have a huge effect on the accumulation of particles lurking in your home.
Clean your ducts:
Air ducts shuttle conditioned air from your furnace throughout your home, but they can easily collect dust and air pollutants and help to recirculate them around your home, especially during renovations. Having a professional duct cleaning can give you a fresh start and will help your furnace to run better too!
Ventilation is the best way to keep your home smelling fresh - opening the windows, even in the colder months, helps to move stale air along. If there are rooms in your home that lack ventilation, consider getting a fan to help bring fresh air in.
If you live near a highway, or in a neighbourhood with a lot of outdoor air pollution, consider getting a HEPA-rated air filtration system to help reduce airborne pollutants.
Green your home:
Did you know that houseplants can help improve your indoor air quality? NASA found that a handful of popular indoor plants help to scrub the air of common pollutants, like benzene and formaldehyde. Easily available at hardware and grocery stores, plants like English Ivy or Mother-In-Law’s Tongue can help to improve your indoor air quality and aesthetics at the same time.
Throw out your air freshener:
While air fresheners can help create a sweet-smelling ambiance in the home, these products are loaded with harmful and dangerous VOCs that may actually cause irritation or illness. Open up the windows instead, or look for a more natural way to freshen up your home.
Use eco-friendly and scent-free products:
Many common cleaning and personal care products are loaded with VOCs and chemicals that can adversely affect your health. Carefully read labels and check sites like Skin Deep to ensure that you’re purchasing something that is safe for you and the whole family.
Health problems associated with mold and indoor air pollution
Health problems caused by indoor air quality issues have a huge range of symptoms that can make them difficult to diagnose based on symptoms alone. An indoor air quality test is a valuable tool in getting back to wellness and pinpointing various pollutants and allergens that may be affecting you and your family. Some of the common health problems our customers report include:
If you’re experiencing headaches that come-and-go depending on where you are in your home, it could be related to problems like ventilation, VOCs off-gassing, mold, and more.
Rashes, infections, irritation, dryness, and redness can all be caused by problems with indoor air quality. Our skin is our largest organ and can be disproportionately affected by airborne toxins.
Next to our skin, our respiratory system is often the second most-commonly affected organ to suffer from air pollution. Problems may be acute or chronic, and can come and go depending on a variety of factors like outdoor air quality, pollution, weather, and humidity. Mold, bacteria, poor ventilation, VOCs, dust, and more can all have serious effects on even the healthiest of lungs; people suffering from chronic conditions like asthma and lung diseases are at an even greater risk.
It’s not just a busy week at the office that can cause fatigue; exposure to common indoor air quality issues like mold may be affecting the quality or length of your sleep.
Never-ending colds and flus:
If it seems like your cold or flu always lasts longer than anyone else’s, it may not actually be the flu - it could instead be a reaction to something in your indoor air quality. Allergies and reactions to common household problems like mold growth often closely mimic the common cold and flu, which can make it difficult to diagnose and treat the problem. An air quality test can help determine if there’s anything else floating around your indoor air that could be causing you to feel ill.
Air Testing with SafeAir
When testing indoor air quality, it is important to seek out a professional technician. SafeAir's technician's are certified and experience to handle any air quality situation. If you need mold air testing in Mississauga, reach out to us at 416-414-5690.