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.

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

Home renovations can create asbestos dangers

Asbestos is fairly common in older homes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).  Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is linked to several serious ailments, such as lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, which is a deadly and aggressive lung cancer. If asbestos is left alone if might pose little danger, but when it’s disturbed – like during a home renovation – its toxic fibers become airborne and can then be inhaled.

The past year saw the astoundingly popular Home Renovation Tax Credit, where Ontario homeowners could receive tax credits of up to $1,350 for renovating their homes.  While that’s over and done with, the Ontario Home Energy Savings Program, Home Energy Assistance Toronto and Canada’s ecoENERGY Rebate Program offer Ontario homeowners up to $11,000 in rebates and grants when they renovate their home with energy-efficiency in mind. These programs don’t expire for another year, and will likely see a lot more Ontarians renovating their older homes.

Whether these renovations are done by the homeowner themselves or by contractors, asbestos is a very real threat.  If the home was built before 1980, the chances it contains asbestos are extremely high, and the asbestos can be found in many building materials including tiling, siding, textured or “popcorn” ceilings, drywall and insulation. When any of these potential asbestos-containing items are disturbed, the fibers loosen (or become “friable”) and are then inhaled into the lungs.

In Ontario, it’s illegal for homeowners to attempt to remove any asbestos themselves because of the danger this poses. For the safety of everyone working on any future renovations and living within the home after they are complete, it’s important to have an inspection to determine if you do indeed have asbestos in your home so that it can be abated without creating a safety hazard.

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

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

Quebec slammed for exporting asbestos while touting green initiatives

The Premier of Quebec recently spent some time in Delhi, India to promote the province’s eco-friendly participation in sustainable development projects and the Western Climate Initiative, an attempt made by several states and provinces to collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

However, a dirty little fact seems to have proved contrary to these endeavours as Canada is one of the world’s largest exporters of the deadly mineral chrysotile, mined in Quebec and shipped to developing countries, including India.

Chrysotile is a form of asbestos, a toxic substance that causes mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer that affects people who work with and mine asbestos materials. Asbestos is sometimes referred to as an environmental “land mine”, causing serious illnesses and death decades after initial exposure. Most patients will not survive more than two years after being diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Despite the Canadian Government’s claims that chrysotile is a much safer type of asbestos, the World Health Organization maintains that asbestos in any form kills upwards of 90,000 people annually worldwide.

Most of Canada’s asbestos is exported to developing countries, where it is aggressively marketed as a safe, efficient and desirable material for building homes and other structures. In India it has already been linked to illnesses in construction workers, and the Trade Union Centre of India has estimated that asbestosis, another deadly lung disease, affects almost 25 per cent of those who work with the material in India.

Jean Charest, the Premier of Quebec, has said there was no feasible way for him to stop such an export, but many organizations, including the union of Building and Wood Workers International have demanded that Quebec stop the exportation. Other organizations have also made pleas to the Indian Government to ban the use of the substance.

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

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

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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.

Asbestos related deaths on the rise in Canada

 According to Statistics Canada, new cases of asbestos-related deaths in the last 15 years have risen 67 per cent, from 276 to 461.

This surprising increase is due to the use of asbestos in construction decades ago, affecting people today when the asbestos is moved or disturbed.  Asbestos is found in building products and insulations found in homes and other buildings.   Larry Stoffman, an occupational health and safety worker with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, says that the number of cases will peak in 2019, but that the death toll will continue to rise until then.

Asbestos is typically thought of as a problem of the past because it is no longer used in the construction of buildings in developed countries. In reality, asbestos is like a land mine – its legacy affecting people today more than ever.   The most common asbestos-related illness is the aggressive cancer, mesothelioma. People with mesothelioma typically do not live for more than two years after the diagnoses. Regular cancer treatments can be sought if the diagnosis is early in the progression of the disease, but this is rare as the symptoms of asbestos exposure do not generally show until decades later.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring heat-resistant mineral, used in many products from brake pads to cement and roofing shingles.  Canada is particularly tricky when it comes to legislating the use of asbestos. When the United States was quickly recognizing the dangers and attempting to halt the use of it in the 1980’s, Canada was busy promoting chrysotile, a form of asbestos, as a less-dangerous alternative.

Canada has a booming asbestos exportation industry to this day, with mining continuing in Quebec. Chrysotile miners have in the past contracted mesothelioma, but their rate is declining while the diagnosis rates in construction workers are rising as they renovate older buildings across the country.  The World Health Organization says that asbestos, no matter in what form, causes upwards of 90,000 deaths worldwide annually.

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

Asbestos Removal Services 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.

A Call to Ban Asbestos

Asbestos is both a Hazardous Material and Designated Substance; a leading cause of cancer in the workplace.  As such, it is regulated in Ontario by the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In fact, the risk it poses in the workplace is so great that it has inspired the formation of an organization called Ban Asbestos Canada (BAC)

Run by volunteers, Ban Asbestos Canada is a non-profit organization consisting of labour, public health, environmental & human rights groups, scientists, concerned citizens and families and victims of asbestos-related diseases.

Its mission is to “provide just compensation to those affected by asbestos , establish a national registry of asbestos diseases, and provide a just transition to those still working in the asbestos industry.”

Its overall goal is to ban asbestos globally and control the international transport of hazardous substances, such as asbestos.

Moreover, the organization wants the Canadian government to be accountable and take responsibility for its past promotion of this hazardous substance and the deadly toll it has taken on Canadians and those abroad.

Those interested in joining the fight can download a printable petition calling for a ban on asbestos that is available here. Simply print out, complete and send to:
Ban Asbestos Canada
c/o CUPE Health, Safety and Environment Branch
1375 St. Laurent Boulevard
Ottawa, Ontario K1G 0Z7

GreenStream Environmental Inc.  Providing Asbestos Removal Services in Toronto and the GTA.  Contact us today.