Home is where the heart is - it's where we spend time with family, friends and loved ones. Because we spend much of our time at home, home is also where our health is.
That's why it's important to make sure that our homes are healthy environments. The steps to make your home a healthy environment may not all come as a surprise to you. But you may be surprised at just how much those little actions can help your health!
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There is a relationship between indoor mould, damp conditions and increased:
If you suspect that you or your family's health is being affected by mould, talk to your health care provider as soon as possible.
People respond to mould in different ways, depending upon the amount of exposure and the person's overall health. Some people are more vulnerable to the effects of mould than others. This includes children, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system or other medical condition(s), such as asthma, severe allergies or other respiratory conditions.
Mould is the common word for any fungus that grows on food or damp materials. Mould can be black, white or almost any colour. It often looks like a stain or smudge and it may smell musty.
In order to grow, mould needs moisture and a material it can live on. It then releases "spores" into the air which are small enough that people can actually breathe them in. Breathing in large amounts of these spores and the by-products they produce can negatively impact your health.
Common places for mould to grow indoors are on window sills, fabrics, carpets, and walls in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry areas.
Recognizing mould is an important step in protecting your health and your family's health. Check your home often.
Common sources of moisture
Common household materials mould can live on
Find out if you have mould in your home. Check:
Not all mould is obvious. It can grow inside walls or above ceiling tiles. Check for mould in damp places or where water damage has happened.
Before beginning any mould clean-up take steps to ensure that you do not expose yourself or others to mould spores. It is recommended that you wear an adequate breathing mask (N95 or better respirator), safety glasses or goggles and rubber gloves.
Even with adequate precautions, mould spores may become airborne. As a precaution during clean-up, children, the elderly and sensitive people such as those with asthma, allergies or other health problems should leave the house. Consult your physician if in doubt.
You can clean mould areas that are less than the size of a standard large garbage bag folded in half (1 square metre). Follow these steps:
Find and fix the source.
Try to find and fix the causes of the mould. For example, a plumbing leak could cause mould growth.
The source of moisture should be fixed to try to make sure the mould cannot grow back once it's cleaned.
Replace porous or absorbent materials (such as ceiling tiles, upholstery and carpeting) that become mouldy or are badly damaged. Dispose of the mouldy or damaged material appropriately.
Contact your housing manager or your local Environmental Health Officer (EHO) if you suspect that your home has:
If there is a lot of mould, (greater than 1 square metre), if mould comes back after repeated cleanings, or if a family member suffers from asthma or other respiratory problems as a result of mould, it is recommend that you contact your housing manager or your local Environmental Health Officer (EHO) to obtain advice on the cleaning of the mould in your house.
Simple things that you can do:
When you see water or moisture act quickly
Ventilate your home
Did you know
Controlling moisture and keeping your home dry is the key to preventing and stopping mould growth.
Keep your home warm and ensure good air circulation.
Remove items that may cause mould
Keep your home clean and dry
Minimize other indoor moisture sources
Prevent water from entering your home
"Mould in housing is one of the issues that can impact your health and your family's health. Yes, when there's a lot of mould in a home, it's not a simple problem to address and usually requires professional help. However, everyone has a role to play in preventing mould and understanding what to do to clean up small areas and how to get help with larger areas. Even the little things you do can help your health!"
Dr. Thomas Dignan, Health Canada