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Marketplace | SafeAir Toronto

Mould FAQ's

Marketplacebrought in mould inspector Frank Haverkate (pictured above) to test Nediera Singh's apartment. Read his full inspection results (PDF 396kb) and mould report (PDF 228kb).

We asked Haverkate to answer some common questions about mould in the home.

What causes mould? You need four things: You need the spores that are floating around; they are readily around us. You need a cellulose material like paper, cardboard, wood or drywall. You need moisture: any kind of flood, leak or condensation. And then you need time. If something is wet for a couple of days, mould will start to grow.
What does mould look like? Most people think it's black, but it can be all sorts of different colours. It can be red, green, white. It can also change colour. The problem with mould is it usually likes to hide so in a lot of cases, you may not see anything at all because it's on the inside of a wall.
Where is mould most likely to grow? Mould can grow underneath carpet, on top of carpet, on furniture, on the visible side of the wall or ceiling or it can grow behind it. It can grow underneath flooring or in the attic. It can grow basically anywhere.
How common is mould? It's very common. The age of the building has nothing to do with it, so whether you have a old house or a new house, either way, if it gets wet and stays wet for a couple of days you'll get mould growth.
Are all moulds dangerous? No. Some are edible, like the white cover on brie cheese is mould, but it's an edible kind. Some are mildly allergenic, and some are extremely toxic. Mould is all around us. You're inhaling mould spores right now, but it's probably a very low level and all sorts of different types. When you get water damage indoors, usually the not-so-good types start to grow.
How can someone tell if mould is a problem? The obvious thing is when you can see it. Odor is not always a good indicator: sometimes you can have a big odor and a small problem or no odor and a big problem. But if you do smell something and you see mould growth, and if you have any history of water issues, it's probably best to have it checked out by a professional.
What are the potential health hazards of mould? It really depends on what you have and how much. And it depends on your own health. They can cause respiratory issues or digestive issues; there are some telltale symptoms with more toxic moulds. Unfortunately, these symptoms can be the same as the common cold or flu.
Who is most at risk for these health hazards? The people most at risk are the young, the elderly, and people with mould allergies would react a lot sooner. Anyone who's immunocompromised or pregnant women would be at risk as well.
What should someone do if they are concerned about mould? This is not a do-it yourself project. The best thing you can do is to do your homework, and hire a consultant to see if you need a remediator or not. A remediator is a contractor who will clean it up properly. The contractor who's doing the cleanup should not be doing the inspection, because you won't know if they tell you that you have a big problem that they are telling you that because they're profiting from that. So you'll get a more honest review of what's happening.
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