We spend so much time indoors that common problems – especially mould – can lead to serious health problems, including asthma and lung infections. Getting professional services from trained mould inspectors is the best way to test the quality of your air. But in the meantime, here are some ways to make sure the air quality in your home is free of dangerous mould levels.
First steps: investigating your building
Mould develops when spores, which circulate constantly in the air, settle on surfaces that are moist and shady. Its presence is usually marked by a musty smell and a black, white or multi-coloured growth on materials including drywall, plaster or carpeting.
Here are some problem areas to watch out for in your home, along with some tips from the Canadian Lung Association’s Healthy House Audit:
- Basement: It’s common for mould to develop in this area of a house, due to high levels of moisture in the air. The first sign is usually a damp, musty or “earthy” odour. Look for damp areas on the floor or walls, condensation on the windows, or discoloured surfaces.
- Laundry areas: These can also be trouble spots. If your dryer isn’t venting properly to the outdoors due to a blocked or badly connected hose, it can promote excess humidity in the air, leading to mould.
- Kitchen: Things to watch out for include rotting wood around the sink, window condensation, rotting window sills and dampness on the walls and cupboards above the stove and sink. Moisture that accumulates in the kitchen when cooking should be evacuated using an exhaust fan above the stove, and water pipes should be checked for leaks to prevent the spread of mould.
- Bathrooms: Mould often develops around sinks, toilets, showers and tubs. Signals of excessive moisture to watch out for include constant window condensation and peeling paint. Keep the bathroom well-ventilated using an exhaust fan, or open the window after a shower or bath.
Once you’ve identified mould in your home, take action: you can usually clean contaminated surfaces with ordinary household cleaning products or anti-fungus products from your local hardware store. Then eliminate the root cause, whether it’s a leak in the plumbing or some other source of excess humidity.
Go to the pros
Some contaminated areas are hard to spot, and the problem may be more widespread than what meets the eye. Mould growing between the walls or above the ceiling can be especially insidious.
In cases you cannot solve on your own, Health Canada recommends you seek advice about indoor air quality from a trained professional.
For questions about mould and other indoor air quality concerns in the South Ontario region, Healthy Environmental offers inspection and remediation services.
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