Our warm wet weather is reeking havoc for families across Alberta. Some have lost everything, others are facing a major clean up. But all of us must watch out for mould.
Mould is a trigger for asthma and asthma-related symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. When you are exposed to mould, the smooth muscle that wraps around the airways tightens. Mould also causes inflammation and increased production of phlegm, headaches and fatigue, and allergic reactions.
For those who have asthma or vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly, mould may affect them much more severely than others. It is important to limit mould growth as much as possible to ensure the best indoor air quality as even a healthy person can be affected if exposed to mould.
Mould can be found both indoors and outdoors on animal and plant matter. Growth is encouraged by too much moisture (dampness) due to high humidity levels and lack of ventilation. If you notice condensation on windows, a musty smell while indoors, discolouration on building materials, or have experienced flooding, your home or business may be at risk for mould growth. When cleaning up minor flood damage use a dehumidifier or keep fans and ventilation systems running long after the area feels dry to the touch. If water levels have reached walls, you may need to have the drywall and wall studs replaced professionally.,
Materials and areas where mould can be commonly found indoors include:
• Wood (flooring, window sills, wall frames, baseboards, cabinets underneath bathroom or kitchen sinks, and furniture)
• Drywall and ceiling tiles (including insulation and inside walls)
• Paper products (cardboard boxes)
• Furniture (upholstery and cushions), carpet, and drapes
If mould is found inside your home or business, follow these steps:
• Ensure you protect yourself before attempting to clean up the mould by wearing a mask, eye protection, rubber gloves, and a long sleeved shirt. As well, sensitive individuals (those with asthma and allergies), children, and the elderly should leave the premises during the mould clean-up process.
• Look for the sources of moisture and mould and try to fix them to make sure the mould cannot grow back once it is cleaned. For example, discard any loose, mould-damaged materials such as ceiling tiles, carpet, or drywall.
• Clean an area with mould that is less than 1 square meter with water and unscented dish detergent or baking soda. Wipe the surface with a rag or sponge containing the cleaning materials, and then dry quickly.
• Areas that are larger than 1 square meter should be cleaned by trained professionals. Also, if mould comes back after repeated cleaning, seek professional help.
The air you breathe where you live, work or play is important to your health. The Lung Association is committed to helping you take steps to improve the air you breathe. Call us at 1-888-566-LUNG (5864) or visit www.lung.ca to find out how.