Toxic Mold & Disease
Asthma has increased 600 percent in children in the past ten years.
Research by WHO (World Health Organization) in Germany, finds prostate cancer, breast cancer, and
other cancers increasing due to mold-related problems.
Mold is the number one health problem with one in every three persons
affected by mold and one in ten with a severe problem related to mold.
These can range from the common cold, tonsillitis, otitis, sinusitis,
bronchitis, asthma, MS and pneumonia, to cancer.
Check your home's humidity levels; buy or borrow a hygrometer and watch
the changes in R.H. that occur throughout a typical day in different
rooms of the house and over the heating season. To inspect your home for
mold growth, winter is the best time except for basements which should
also be inspected in the summer. With a flashlight and some simple
tools, go through the entire house, both inside and outside, searching
for moisture damage and mold growth and their potential causes.
The Stachybotrys species of mold is dangerous; it will start growing in
80 percent humidity but, once established, can grow at 55 percent
humidity. This mold can develop from the decay of building materials and
is much harder to control. If more than ten square feet develop, it is
advised that a professional clean it up. When you see a small speck of
mold, that's only part of the problem - the remainder being inside the
'Frog Page' is a manual of the health of the environment and states that
frogs are declining because of mold.
Some of the causes of mold are brush and trees within 30 feet of the
building; venting the clothes drier inside the home; furniture against
outside walls; old fill, causing building movement leading to cracks
causing water ingress; concrete will wick up water even to several feet
above ground; ventilation not directed outside, such as the kitchen
range hood, which should be vented outside; plants and aquariums; drying
clothing indoors; standing water, such as keeping cold water in the
kitchen sink; hot tubs; using several gallons of water to wash floors.
'Sick Building Syndrome' is caused by moisture and mold growth. It
migrates through foundations up from the soil. A dehumidifier is not the
final answer as it only does the air and not the walls. What is required
is a combination of ventilation, circulation, and heat.
Carpenter ants and termites will smell moisture from miles away and they
only attack damaged wood.
Ventilation alone won't help a crawl space. In the summer the vents
bring in warm, moist air.
Mold forms on the coldest space. The only
way to deal with it is with heat. Wall heaters with fans are more
efficient than baseboard heaters.
Pull furniture and store material away from exterior walls and off
basement floors; leave closet doors ajar; leave bedroom doors open as
much as possible; undercut doors; don't block or deflect warm air
registers; open drapes, blinds, and curtains; set the furnace fan to run
continuously. This will use more electricity but can be offset by
installing a two-speed energy-efficient motor; don't cut off the heating
supply or close off unused rooms.
Uninsulated or poorly insulated areas such as exterior corners or
foundation walls, should be improved with additional insulation. Be sure
to install an air-vapor barrier, usually polyethylene, on the room side
of the insulation to prevent hidden condensation behind the insulation.
Seal hidden opening into the attic, tighten the attic hatch,
weatherstrip and caulk around windows and doors, gasket electrical
outlets, caulk baseboards and seal the top of foundations. Using an air
conditioner on muggy summer days also helps take out the moisture.
Humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air-conditioning units and filtration
systems can be a source of mold growth if they are not regularly cleaned
Key areas to check for moisture sources leading to condensation inside
the home are roof leaks [especially at chimneys, flashings, skylights
and eavestroughing]; wall leaks [especially at window and door flashing
and sills]; foundation leaks [especially where the ground slopes toward
the foundation]; and plumbing leaks [especially at toilet bases and
under sink drains].
Check any fuel-burning equipment - furnaces, hot water heaters, boilers,
fireplaces, and wood stoves - to ensure that they are venting properly.
A blocked chimney could mean that combustion products, including large
amounts of water vapor, are spilling into your house. Along with that
moisture come dangerous combustion gasses, such as carbon monoxide,
which cause deaths every year. Have heating equipment and venting
systems checked by a trained service person.
If your moisture remedial work includes extensive air sealing, be sure
that all fuel-burning equipment has an adequate supply of combustion
air. High efficiency furnaces, for example, have their own air supplies
and exhaust fans but conventional equipment may rely on house air for
combustion and on 'natural draft' to move combustion products up the
chimney flue. If starved for air or overpowered by an exhaust fan
somewhere else in the house, such equipment can spill combustion gasses
indoors. Examples of this include stains near the vent of a gas water
heater, smoke entering the room from a wood-burning fireplace or stove,
and pilot lights being blown out.
Mold growth often occurs in out-of-the-way areas like closets, corners,
walls behind furniture and unused rooms. Increasing air circulation to
these areas warms the cold surfaces and lowers local humidity levels.
To solve moisture problems, cover any exposed earth in a crawl space or
basement with heavy polyethylene, sealed and weighted-down; slope soil
away from foundations to keep basement walls and slab dry; patch any
foundation leaks; don't use humidifiers, unless humidity levels are
below 30 percent R.H.; avoid drying firewood indoors; operate bathroom
exhaust fans during a bath or shower; use your range hood exhaust when
cooking; avoid steam-cleaning carpets in winter; clean mold from wood
and gyproc with a 10 percent to 30 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide
applied with a spray bottle. This is more effective than bleach and
If you use chlorine bleach, mix one part bleach with two parts water and
a little detergent to clean nearby surfaces. Leave for 15 minutes and
rinse well. Use gloves, protective glasses and a tight-fitting dust
mask, along with good ventilation. Persons with any respiratory problems
should not perform clean-up or be in the clean-up area. Children and
pets should not be allowed access. Soiled curtains, clothing, linens and
any other washable materials should be removed and cleaned. Badly
mildewed carpets, furnishings and books will probably need to be thrown
Molds are parasitic micro-organisms that appear as black, white or
multi-colored stain or fuzz. In addition to causing asthma, they can
cause other allergies and serious health problems. There are tens of
thousand of varieties of molds and are difficult and expensive to
identify, even for experts. Health officials recommend eliminating all
molds from inside your home.
Most mold spores need condensation or damp materials to germinate and
once are established, many colonies generate their own moisture and can
continue to survive even under dry conditions. They also need mild
temperatures and a source of food, such as house dust or drywall paper.
1. Natural Resources Canada [NRCan] "Air-Leakage Control" Pg. 11 [20 Feb
2.WHO [World Health Organization] [20 Feb. 2002]
3.Cormier, Dr. Y., Centre de Recherche, Hopital Laval, 2725 Chemin
Ste-Foy, Ste Foy, Quebec Canada, G1V-4G5, Institut de Recherche en Sante
et Securite du Travail (IRSST), Quebec Canada, July 21, 1999; revised;
accepted for publication November 26, 1999.
4. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/ [20 Feb. 2002]
5. http://ehpnet1.niehs.nih.gov/qa/105-10news/NIEHSnews.html [20
[20 Feb. 2002]
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