Mould and Hazardous Waste

The air we breath doesn't discriminate – rich or poor, it affects all of us.  Mould, Urea Formaldehyde, Asbestos, Vermiculite (Asbestos), sprayed insulation, Radon, tobacco smoke, household chemicals, viruses and bacteria can all be described as hazardous. 

Most of us know about Asbestos.  The Occupational Health and Safety Act, originally put in place for handling and removal of Asbestos, is adaptable for other hazardous waste from mould to infectious diseases.  Imagine, if you will, an un-maintained ventilation system that is allowed to run throughout years of household cleaning and chemicals like spray furniture polish - possibly, cigarette smoking was previously allowed indoors.  The airborne particals flow through the ventilation systems.  Some of these particals are caught by the filters that should be replaced periodically.  Some others stay in the system and bond with other particals like exfoliated skin cells and germs from illnesses etc.


Mould

Mould is an everpresent problem in buildings of any age.  Mould naturally occurs outside and it brought into buildings as spores through the air.  The fact is that mould requires very little to thrive, namely a porous surface on which to grow, and moisture.  Not all mould is toxic and all can be controlled through proper ventilation, exhast, cleaning and preventive maintenance.

Contrary to common belief, mould does not only grow in dark places - it will take hold in the shadow of a potted plant.  This means that some infestations are easy to spot, but this is not always the case.  Mould does not require a dark place to propegate, but it will thrive in such places, and may even start there.  This means that, if the growth began under a wet carpet, by the time it is in plain sight, the problem is much worse than it may appear at first glance.


General Caution:

In general, extreme caution should be exercised when attempting to clean up mould.  Larger areas contaminated with mould should be left up to professionals as proper precaution will be taken to protect your health and theirs.

The following is a list of "Do's and Don'ts" for safely dealing with mould.


Do - Removal and cleaning of topical growth:

Small areas of mould growth from condensation around windows or on bathroom tiles is topical (on the surface only) in nature and can be simply cleaned up.  Avoid using bleach or chemical biocides since these often do not work and may cause other environmental and health issues.  Soapy water with white vinegar, a detergent solution such as dish soap work very well in cleaning up small areas of mould growth.  Benefect solution which as all natural anti-bacteria and fungicide can also be used.  Cotton tipped swabs can be used to get into hard to reach areas.


Don't - Removal and cleaning of growth on other materials:

Mould growth on drywall, wood beams, carpeting, insulation, furniture, etc.  should be tested to determine the type, quantity and toxic effects.  The cause and extent of the mould problem must also be determined prior to any clean up procedure.  When mould growth is visible on the drywall surface for example, the visible area may only be the tip of the iceberg and a much larger area of mould growth may be hidden in the wall cavity behind.  Caution must be taken in these situations because massive amounts of mould spores can be aerosolized when the mould is cleaned and this can be spread to other areas causing health issues and possible further growth.  Proper care must be taken to protect the individual, occupants as well as the remainder of the building when removing mould.


Don't - Disturbing Mould Growth:

Mould growth should not be disturbed.  If mould growth areas are touched, scrubbed, dried out or otherwise disturbed, mould spores may aerosolize and became part of the breathable air.  This may cause ingestion and inhalation of potentially toxic mould spores which could lead to a variety of serious health effects.  Avoid ripping up carpeting, etc., performing destructive investigations or beginning remediation activities on building materials showing mould growth until you know what you are dealing with.  If wall cavities need to be opened for the purposes of inspection or testing, this must be done by a qualified professional with proper containment or equipment and minimal damage to the wall itself.  All entry points or punctures in a wall suspected of mould growth must be properly sealed afterwards to avoid mould spores from aerosolizing.


Don't - Use of Biocides:

The use of biocides is not recommended by MSI: nor by many of the leading guidelines and associations, such as the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienist (ACGIH), which is a leading body in North America for Occupational and Environmental Safety as well as bioaerosol testing and remediation.  Biocides are not an easy fix for mould in buildings even though many manufacturers claim that they are.  Biocides kill the viability of the mould spores and can prevent mould growth from spreading.  Biocides, however, do not remove the toxic properties of a mould species.  By spraying biocides on mould growth you will only retard mould growth itself.  Non-viable (dead) mould spores can have the same toxic properties as viable (living) mould spores.  The toxic health effects of viable and non-viable spores are the same.


Caution - Drying:

Depending on the situation, it is not always advisable to dry out mould growth.  By drying out mould growth you are removing part of its sustainability and food source.  If a mould species is growing on building materials and the moisture is removed too soon before remediation, mould spores could aerosolize as a natural survival mechanism of the mould itself.  Some species of mould like Stachybotrys needs a lot of moisture for growth.  As long as it is wet this mould does not easily aerosolize it's spores.  If this type of mould growth is dried out and not immediately removed, it may become aerosolized.

 

Asbestos

Asbestos describes six naturally occurring fibrous minerals found in certain types of rock formations.  Asbestosis can be a serious issue and needs to be addressed.  In some cases, it is better to conduct an asbestos operation and management program rather than other asbestos control strategies such as removal.  In fact, removal is often not a building owners best course of action to reduce asbestos exposure.  An improper removal can create a dangerous situation.  Proper asbestos management is neither to dispose of it all in a panic nor to ignore the problem under false presumptions thinking that asbestos is "risk free".

Health concerns remain, particularly among custodial and maintenance workers.  Exposure to asbestos can lead a person to have diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, tracheal cancer, and cancer of the digestive tract (stomach, colon, rectum).  In general, treatment of asbestos-related diseases is insufficient.  A cure is rarely possible.  Therefore prevention is the key to protecting the health of workers exposed to asbestos.

In place management means having a program in order to ensure the day-to-day management of the building is carried out in a manner that minimizes the release of asbestos fibers in the air, and ensures that when asbestos fibers are released (accidentally or intentionally), proper controls and cleaning procedures are implemented.  This program is all that’s necessary to control the release of asbestos fibers until the asbestos-containing material in a building will be disturbed by renovation or demolition activities.

The first responsibility of a building owner or manager is to identify asbestos containing materials, through a building wide inventory.  After the material is identified, the building’s management and staff can then institute controls to ensure that the day to day management of the building is carried out in a manner that prevents or minimizes the release of asbestos fibers into the air. These controls will ensure that when asbestos fibers are released, proper management and clean-up procedures are implemented.

In addition to the steps outlined above.  An in-place management program will usually include notification to workers and occupants of the existence of asbestos in their building, periodic surveillance of the materials, and proper record keeping.  Without such programs, asbestos materials could be damaged or deteriorate, which might result in elevated levels of airborne asbestos fibers.  While the management costs of all the above activities will depend upon the amount, condition, and location of the materials, such a program need not be expensive.

 

 

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IAQ - FAQ

 

Possible Tests for:

  1. Air Volume Hood or FMT Meter Occupant to space ratio
  2. Temperature
  3. Humidity
  4. Fibreglass
  5. Asbestos
  6. CO2 Carbon Dioxide
  7. CO Carbon Monoxide
  8. Formaldehyde
  9. Radon
  10. Pollens
  11. Bacteria
  12. Mould (Mould)
  13. Nitrogen Oxides
  14. Ozone
  15. Total Volatile Organic Compound
  16. Air Born Particles
  17. Lead testing, painted before 1978
  18. Mites
  19. Animal Dander - Cat, Dog, Mouse
  20. Cock Roaches
  21. Legionnaires Disease
  22. Humidifier Fever
  23. Meningitis
Man in Shaft Shaft before cleaningShaft after Cleaning

 

Many Reasons for IAQ:

  1. Better, safer working and living environment
  2. Improved indoor air quality, appearance and productivity
  3. Reduce energy and maintenance costs
  4. Increases overall efficiency of equipment
  5. Meet health inspection standards
  6. Reduce odours and risk of fire
  7. Maintain fire rating and life of ceiling tiles