Tornadoes bring out the worst in asbestos

The damage inflicted by a natural disaster like a tornado is, for the most part, easy to see: buildings, trees and vehicles are ripped apart and pose very obvious threats to us.

However, there’s another serious environmental threat that accompanies tornadoes: asbestos exposure. Kudos to government agencies in the currently tornado-torn Southern states such as Alabama for recognizing the dangers and recently speaking out about them.

Older buildings that haven’t undergone proper asbestos removal are always health hazards; they can affect our breathing and exposure to asbestos fibres that can lead to serious long-term illnesses, including lung cancer.

But natural disasters such as tornados make the threat infinitely scarier. If you dilly-dally about getting an asbestos inspection and removal company to your building before tornado strikes, the consequences can be grave.

As Craig Tucker of the Jefferson County Department of Public Health recently explained, the destruction caused by tornadoes kicks debris all over the place and often crushes various components of a building’s foundation.

“When the material becomes crushed, more of a powdered state, that’s when you’ve got the potential for the asbestos fibres to become airborne and then cause the greatest damage to the public’s health,” Tucker said.

Health officials in the South have also smartly insisted that traditional dust masks aren’t enough to keep any disaster relief crews safe. Half-face masks with double HEPA filters are recommended.

While Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area aren’t part of Tornado Alley by any means, the disaster in the American South is an important lesson about the threat when a force of nature combines with asbestos, mould and other dangerous agents. It could be a tornado but it could also be an earthquake or a major storm.

The lesson is to make sure you keep up with your asbestos and mould removal so your risks are minimized in the event of a disaster.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite and mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA, GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9314.

Price of London Police HQ renovation climbs due to asbestos concerns

When it comes to renovating an old building, failing to pay proper attention to asbestos inspection can have long-term consequences. London, Ontario’s police headquarters learned that lesson the hard way recently when it was announced that an additional $1 million will be needed to complete a renovation project that has already cost $34 million.

The project was completed four years ago but, as Deputy Chief Ian Peer explained, “the original estimates to do what we wanted to do were substantially greater than the amount of money we were actually given. We were not able to get the funds back then to do all the things we needed to do, so here we are some years down the road.”

One of the neglected tasks was asbestos removal. To save money, companies often perform asbestos removal on a piece-by-piece basis. Someone finds the hazardous material and it’s removed by the appropriate asbestos inspection and removal company. This is what happened with the London Police headquarters. The problem is that the expenses increase every time a new pieces of dangerous asbestos is discovered. Low and behold, the police are being dinged for an unexpected $1 million four years after the renovations were completed.

As Peer said, “it just begins to get to the point where it becomes more economically feasible to do the entire abatement. “

The London Police Department’s story highlights a valuable lesson: there is no “halfway” with asbestos. Just because it isn’t right in front of your eyes doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Businesses and homeowners don’t want to take a “cross that bridge when when we come to it” attitude with a material with fibres that can cause lung cancer and other life-threatening illnesses when released.

The best solution is to start any renovation project the right way: by doing a complete asbestos and mould removal or inspection. Not only will you make the building a safer place to be, you’ll save money by avoiding unexpected future renovations as a result of neglecting environmental threats in the first place.

How does toxic mould affect humans?

It’s a well-known fact that mould can make humans sick, but how sick can some of the more toxic mould species make you?

Some people have pre-existing health conditions like asthma, allergies or weakened immune systems that can result in mould affecting their respiratory health. However, mould can also cause serious symptoms in other individuals, such as:

  • heart palpitations
  • skin rashes
  • numbness or tingling sensations
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • depression
  • headaches
  • sinus problems
  • memory loss
  • an inability to concentrate
  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • sores

An unexplained occurrence of any of the above symptoms that does not go away, or stops temporarily while someone is outside of the home could mean that there is mould present in the home or workplace.  

Mould can also affect humans in other ways – it can colonize within the body and even use the human body as a food source. Other moulds, like the black mould often associated with grow-ops, release toxic spores that have devastating health effects on both people and animals.   It’s difficult to determine if mould is the cause of sudden and prolonged health concerns without a mould inspection, which can even determine the type of mould present (toxic or non-toxic).

If mould is present, it’s extremely important to have it removed by a certified and professional mould removal company.

know what you’re getting into.

Should you suspect the presence mould in your home or business, Contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca – Toronto’s mould removal contractors for a free on-site quote – at (416) 818-9414.

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Choosing a mould removal company

A mould removal and remediation business in Florida has been making headlines this month because their owner was arrested for fraud: faking test results and pretending to remove mould by ripping out flooring and walls without actually doing anything at all other than damaging people’s homes. He left his customers with intentionally confusing laboratory reports they weren’t able to decipher along with a mould problem that remained long after he took their money and ran.  

There is nothing as frustrating as paying for a job not completed properly, but when it comes to mould removal, your family’s health is at stake. This makes it especially important for home and business owners to only choose experienced and trusted mould removal companies.  

How to choose a mould removal company
Research. Check local online directories and trustworthy rating sites like www.homestars.com for honest and straightforward reviews of mould removal companies. 

Ask. Don’t hesitate to ask the company for references and testimonials. It’s also a must that they be certified (Applied Microbial Removal Technician and Water Damage Restoration Technician are just some examples of possible certifications from accreditation bodies like the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration in North America – IICRC), licensed, carry liability insurance and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board coverage – to not only protect themselves, but their customers.  

Compare. Many fly-by-night mould removal companies offer low rates, but in the end homeowners will get what they pay for. Mould removal is an affordable service, often less than one might expect, and trustworthy companies will offer free estimates and great extras such as emergency service and discrete service – usually, at no extra cost.

Should you suspect the presence of mould in your home or business, Contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca – Toronto’s mould removal specialists – at (416) 818-9414.

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Scientists find surprising link between asthma and mould

Many people are aware that mould can make asthma symptoms worse, resulting in asthmatics having difficulty breathing or even triggering dangerous asthma attacks.   However, research that was conducted by British scientists and published in December’s issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine has found a surprising and significant reason mould can have such a terrible effect on people with asthma – the mould begins to grow in their lungs.

The warm and moist climate of the lungs provides a perfect place for mould to grow, and it can easily get into the lungs when the spores are inhaled.   The research was conducted at Glenfield Hospital in England.

One of the researchers said in the report that, “it is known that A. fumigatus can grow in the lungs of some people with asthma and mould allergy, which can cause severe lung damage.”

A. fumigatus is a species of Aspergillus, which is a common environmental mould known to irritate allergies and asthma and can be found in homes. The only way to prevent the inhalation of mould spores is to have the mould removed by a professional mould removal company.

Mould may not always be easy to spot, but a mould removal professional can find hidden mould and other problem spots like water damage that can provide an optimal environment for eventual mould growth.

According to the asthma study, 60% of people with asthma who were allergic to the mould had it growing in their lungs. Those who had the mould growth in their lungs also had much more serious narrowing of the airway. In fact, narrowing of the airways that doesn’t go away was found to actually cause the mould to grow in their lungs.

Should you suspect the presence of mould your home or business, Contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca – Toronto’s mould  removal specialists – at (416) 818-9414.

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Toronto property managers should undergo mould removal to avoid lawsuits

Property managers of condominiums and apartment buildings in Toronto and the Greater Toronto  Area (GTA) could be at risk of being sued because of existing mould or improper mould removal.

Not only are property managers at risk of being sued, but so are building owners, real estate brokers, sellers of buildings and building designers, including architects and engineers.  If a tenant or resident is complaining about mould in their unit but the property manager cannot see or smell it, they should still look into professional mould testing.

Over the years, floods from the units above are common, leading to mould growth that goes unseen behind the walls (or unseen mould under carpeting, behind upholstery, drains, doors, wallpaper, draperies, paint, insulation and ceiling tiles). If a burst pipe or flood does happen, the area should be allowed to dry fully for at least 48 hours and monitored carefully from then on. 

The majority of Toronto apartment buildings (there’s almost 2,000 of them) were built in the 1960s and 1970s – even earlier – and do not have functioning bathroom fans to remove excess humidity and prevent mould growth or have updated HVAC systems that increase ventilation throughout the building and in units – a lack of ventilation is a prime factor in mould growth.  

Mould litigation is a booming industry in both Canada and the United States, and growing every year. For example, one insurance company in the United States reported just 12 toxic mould-related claims in 1999, 499 cases in 2000 and 10,000 in 2001. In 2000 alone, the Government of Ontario gave schools $40 million to clean up mould contamination, while each province has seen their fair share of claims grow every year since.

One 2001 lawsuit reached the $1 million mark for punitive damages at the Supreme Court of Canada.  Having your superintendent go into the unit and spackle over the mould will not do – the mould must be contained and removed and the reasons for mould growth, such as excess moisture or water damage, must be fixed.

How can you prevent costly litigation as a building owner or property manager? By undergoing periodic mould inspections and proper, professional mould removal if it discovered to exist.   

Should you suspect the presence of mould in your home or apartment, Contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca – Toronto’s mould removal company – at (416) 818-9414. We can help.

Mould Removal Company serving  Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) including Ajax, Brampton, Etobicoke, Markham, Mississauga, North York, Oshawa, Peel Region, Pickering,  Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Woodbridge ,Vaughan and York Region Ontario.

Mould threats don’t disappear once the temperature drops in the GTA

Seasonal allergies tend to take a break in the winter, because weeds, grasses and pollens are either killed off or dormant for the season. Outside, the threat of snow mould remains.  

What is Snow Mould?

Snow mould is a type of fungi that affects nearly all grasses growing in Canada, including residential lawns that are covered in snow for much of the year. If snow melts during the winter during warmer temperatures, this snow mould can present allergy issues.  Those allergic to mould might still experience allergies or respiratory problems indoors throughout the winter months because moulds are not killed by snow or frost and tend to thrive in your home because of the warmth.  Likewise, mould thrives on the dead organic matter that is killed off during the winter months, leading to mould growth “bouncing back” in the spring. 

Inside the home there are risks of mould infestations because just like in the summer, the home is sealed up to prevent expensive heated air from escaping, which traps mould spores inside.   Condensation also builds up in the winter, affecting poorly-insulated or older windows, floors, roofs, pipes and exterior walls.

Excessive condensation  on windows can also contribute to humidity in the home and if this is the case, homeowners should undergo a mould inspection to make sure that this excessive humidity isn’t causing hidden mould growth.  

The long-range weather forecast  in Toronto is calling for a much wetter and warmer winter than normal until January, which means that mould-causing moisture intrusion might be an issue for some homeowners in the coming months. Ensure that this winter is worry-free with a mould inspection.

Should you suspect the presence of vermiculite or asbestos in your home or business, Contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca – Toronto’s asbestos removal specialists – at (416) 818-9414.

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School Portables can wreak havoc on student and teacher health if mould is not removed

A school in Northern Alberta recently made headlines because of its closure due to a massive mould infestation that made students and teachers ill. The small, one-room school experienced a leaky pipe initially, and one month before the closure staff and students were complaining of a strong smell and headaches. Before the school was set to open again on May 4th, more mould was found because a proper mould inspection was not properly carried out. A professional mould assessment and removal project by experts is now underway.  

Similar stories have been reported in recent years in the Greater Toronto Area, where a lack of funding, high population and older school buildings have created some of the most skewed classroom space to student population numbers in the country.  

In one 2002 case reported in the National Post, students at an Etobicoke school were forced into crowded, falling-apart portables that were “rotting from sitting on wet ground” and had very poor ventilation leading to mould growth that was so bad, one male student was injured as a wooden staircase fell apart while he was standing on it.   While severe, that wasn’t even the most shocking problem – 90 per cent of the students were experiencing health problems that were considered severe, such as headaches, asthma, bronchial infections and dizziness.

An unnamed source also mentioned that an abnormal number of the female portable teachers were experiencing fertility issues ranging from trouble conceiving to miscarriages. Meanwhile, the school board’s health and safety board found nothing wrong.  

Smaller rooms, portables and larger numbers are becoming more commonplace if schools aren’t given the money to expand. When attending class in portables, both staff and students will spend a large amount of their day in the small, cramped space. If it’s infested with toxic mould, those nearby will spend a large amount of their day breathing it in unless the mould is found and removed properly.

Should you suspect the presence of mould in your home, school or business, Contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca – Toronto’s mould removal specialists – at (416) 818-9414. We can help.

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Reducing Household Mould Increases Health

Most Canadians are aware that the flu and other seasonal ailments can cause significant problems in children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. These groups are often encouraged to get any recommended vaccines early, and are often warned to be extra cautious in dealing with health risks that might not necessarily be as dangerous for healthy adults.

But what exactly are compromised immune systems? Typically, the phrase refers to certain immunodeficiencies like AIDS, various forms of cancer, hepatitis or other chronic and serious circumstances. But what if an individual is unaffected by these conditions but is always suffering from respiratory issues, sinus problems or has aggravated allergies or asthma for unknown reasons?

According to recent studies by both Harvard University and the Mayo Clinic, the increased rate of asthma, allergies and nearly all sinus issues can be directly related to household mould that is found in half of North American homes.  Mould doesn’t discriminate between older buildings and brand new homes, and can be found nearly anywhere.  

Moisture is the main reason that indoor mould occurs. They key to eliminating this mould is drying up particularly moist areas by using a dehumidifier and keeping the humidity in your home at a constant 30% – 45%. Any leaks or water damage in the home should be inspected as a potential source of mould, and remediated as soon as possible.

Maintaining your indoor air quality by utilizing HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters and ensuring proper ventilation of moist bathrooms can also prevent the travel of mould spores, as well as using proper mould-removing cleaners instead of bleach, which only kills the mould on the surface and not the roots.

Everyone can be vulnerable to toxic mould that enters the body and degrades the immune system while posing significant respiratory health problems, but eliminating household mould problems is one of the best ways to enter cold and flu season with a fighting chance. 

Should you suspect the presence of mould in your home or business, Contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca – Toronto’s mould removal specialists – at (416) 818-9414. We can help.

Mould Removal in Toronto, Ajax, Brampton, Etobicoke, Markham, Mississauga, North York, Oshawa, Peel Region, Pickering,  Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Woodbridge ,Vaughan and York Region Ontario.

Mould found at “sanitized” Maple Leaf Foods plant

Despite promised cleaning, federal food inspectors have found meat debris, slime, mould and other unsanitary conditions at the Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto.

A Canadian Food Inspection Agency report was obtained by the Canadian Press this month detailing the infractions found at the plant last year, the same one that was at the forefront of the listeriosis outbreak and which was supposed to have been disinfected entirely.

Over 200 new health and safety operating procedures were implemented after the incident, mostly strict cleanliness guidelines, but some of the violations in the October 2008 report include meat and food debris on container bins, knife holders and the floor, rust on meat processing equipment, slime on a meat-trimming table and mould on calking, cardboard and skids within populated areas of the plant.

Mould in the workplace can present several inherent dangers for workers. Typical mold exposure can pose risks for those with asthma, allergies, lung conditions or immunodeficiencies. Mould can be found almost anywhere and severe reactions can involve fever and shortness of breath.

If mold is found, regardless of the species of mould, the Centre for Disease Control recommends removing it if it can be seen or smelled due to the amount present. Mould can also affect the look, smell, and structural integrity of some materials.

Areas where it is most likely to grow are spaces prone to water damage and increased moisture such as leaking pipes or places where condensation forms.   If mould is present, reducing worker exposure is key. The area(s) should be cleaned and disinfected as well as the moisture source eliminated. For large areas, an indoor air quality specialist or mould abatement contractor should be contacted. 

GreenStream Environmental Inc.  Providing Mould Removal Services in Toronto and the GTA.  Contact us today at (416) 818-9414.