Health Canada considers indoor mould growth to be a potential health hazard. Scientific evidence links mould and damp conditions in homes to increased risk of respiratory symptoms, including
- Eye, nose and throat irritation
- Coughing and phlegm build-up
- Wheezing and shortness of breath
- Other allergic reactions
Mould is a common name which can refer to various types of fungi that are a natural part of our environment. If mould finds a damp place to grow inside a home, however; it can lead to respiratory problems and allergic reactions among some people. Mould is one of the most commonly found indoor air pollutants.
Moulds and fungi are found in nature and are necessary for the breakdown of leaves, wood and other plant debris. These micro-organisms can enter a building directly or by their spores being carried in by the air. In a home or building, moulds and fungi are usually found growing on wood, drywall (plaster/gypsum/Sheetrock(R)), upholstery, fabric, wallpaper, drapery, ceiling tiles, and carpeting.
The key factor is moisture because moulds and fungi need it to grow. As a result, moulds and fungi are most often found in:
- basements, kitchens (bottom of fridge) around bathroom vanities, washer/dryer area.
- underside of carpets and pads
- surface of walls behind furniture (where condensation forms)
- ceilings and the top side of ceiling tiles
- front and back side of dry wall, wall paper or paneling
- inside HVAC systems and duct work
Some of the more common types of mould found in homes and other structures are:
- Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra)
- Aspergillus sp.
- Penicillium sp.
- Fusarium sp.
- Trichoderma sp.
- Memnoniella sp.
- Cladosporum sp.
- Alternaria sp.
Basically, mould is any fungus that grows on moist surfaces or food. In order to grow, mould needs three things: moisture, ideal surfaces and optimal temperatures. Leaky pipes, flooded areas and window sills with excessive condensation are perfect breeding grounds for mould. It can also grow in and on fabrics, carpets, cardboard, wood, and walls especially in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms.
The basic problem with mold is that it can be hidden. Home inspectors are not mold remediation specialists and do not have the expertise required to identify potential mold issues. Home buyers are well advised to invest in both a home inspection and mold inspection before purchasing a home, particularly if there is any indication that there are potential moisture issues.
The Angus Home Inspector always recommends you use a Third Party Mould Inspector who is also qualified in Mould Remediation. Some Home Inspectors offer testing by kits from companies such as Pro Lab in Toronto, who will test samples and provide a detailed analysis, but when dealing with one of your lifes biggest investments it is better to rely on companies who specialize in Mould and Mould Remediation.