Indoor sources mainly influence indoor air quality. Indoor pollutant levels are increased by poor ventilation. There are numerous sources of indoor air pollution. These include the use of domestic fuels such as coal, wood and paraffin. Tobacco smoke is a serious indoor air pollutant. Furthermore, other indoor pollutants are asbestos products, pesticides, air fresheners and household cleaning products.
Indoor cooking and heating appliances may produce high levels of ash, dust and carbon monoxide. Air pollution results from the use of some types of fuel and types of equipment. The location of the stove, heater or fireplace is also important. In addition, the ventilation of the interior space is important.
Indoor pollution levels can be extremely high. Furthermore, the daily average can exceed the World Health Organization and other international guidelines. High concentrations of some air pollutants result from the incomplete combustion of the fuels.
Coal, wood, paraffin or other sources of fossil fuel releases pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and dust particles into your air.
A source of pollutants is indoor braais, fireplaces or gas heaters. In addition, many of these stoves or heaters have no or ineffective flues or hoods for venting pollutants to the outside.
Signs of incomplete combustion
If you see dark staining on the mantlepiece your fireplace is polluting the air inside your house! If your gas stove or heater is burning with a yellow flame your air is being polluted! Furthermore, if you smell your braai wood or meat from the inside braai you are polluting your air!
Check your heating and cooking appliances checked regularly. This will ensure that the air inside your house is not being polluted and harming you!
The source of moisture in bathrooms is mainly the steam from hot baths and showers condensing on the ceiling and walls making bathrooms the ideal breeding ground and bacteria. Mould on bathroom ceilings, walls and tiles is mainly the result of condensation and poor air circulation in the bathroom.
How to get rid of bathroom mould
The first step to cleaning mould from a bathroom ceiling and walls is to use a product that will kill the mould and remove the staining. Therefore, this means using products like Domestos, Jik or any other bleach you may have in your kitchen. However, there are also propriety products like Mould Buster which have been specially developed to get rid of mould. If you prefer to use one of them follow the instructions carefully!
Safety first when cleaning up bathroom mould
Always use PPE (personnel protection equipment) when using dangerous chemicals like bleach and even vinegar!
The PPE listed below is essential to protect yourself against the cleaners:
Breathing apparatus (not dust or medical masks)
How to kill the mould
If you decide to use bleach, create a mixture of bleach and water, using a spray or sponge to apply it to the mould areas in your bathroom. The bleach removes the mould stains!
Wash down the area with water.
Apply white vinegar with a spray or sponge to the mould area. Vinegar will kill the mould!
Wait about an hour before cleaning the area with water again.
Let the area dry thoroughly.
Ventilate the bathroom to help remove fumes and to help the drying process. Use a fan or heater to speed up the process if required.
Never mix any other cleaning ingredients with bleach as it could create a toxic gas. Therefore, wash your mouldy ceiling with bleach first, then apply the white vinegar solution separately.
How to prevent mould from forming in bathrooms
Ventilation is the key to preventing mould from forming:
Leave shower and bathroom doors and windows open to provide proper ventilation to the bathroom, particularly after hot showers or baths.
Wipe down your walls with white vinegar whenever you see mould starting to appear.
Now that you know how to keep bathroom mould from ceiling areas and walls for good, prevention is the key! Be proactive by wiping down the tiled walls in your bathroom and the floor in your shower with vinegar once a week, especially in showers, and you’ll never have problems with mould again.
What is a mould Inspection and should you have one?
A mould inspection is a different process from a typical home inspection. Besides searching for the mould itself, a mould inspector concentrates on finding damp or wet conditions conducive to mould growth in and around the outside of the house. Mould spores can be found everywhere inside and outside the house! The secret to controlling mould growth is eliminating the moisture that allows mould spores to grow.
There are a few different situations in which you might want a mould inspection. Below you will find out what a mould inspection entails when to do one, what mould testing proves and the average cost of an inspection.
What is mould?
Mould is a fungus, and like all fungi, it thrives in moist places. Mould spreads by emitting spores, microscopic particles that are often as small as a single cell. Spores float around in the air until they land on a surface. Mould spores are everywhere, outdoors as well as inside your house. It would be impossible to remove all mould spores from a house without installing a massive industrial filtration system.
Luckily, mould spores only form mould when they land on a moist surface. If you can keep the interior of your home dry, you can avoid having any problems with mould. You should clean up spills, and repair leaks in your roof, plumbing or air-conditioning systems. Also, make sure your kitchen and bathrooms are properly ventilated to keep moisture out of the house.
Removing any mould in your house will prevent the surface it is on from being damaged and prevent allergies or asthma.
Can mould affect your health?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mould exposure has the potential to cause adverse health effects. If mould is growing in your house, it can release spores that are easily inhaled. Moulds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation and in some cases, skin irritation. People with mould allergies may have more severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses may get serious infections when they are exposed to mould.
A type of toxicosis can result from exposure to black mould. Disturbed black mould releases mycotoxins as a defence mechanism. These mycotoxins travel through the air on tiny mould spores and are easily inhaled. Black mould may cause the symptoms mentioned above and can cause depression, cognitive impairment, sleep difficulties, circulation problems, digestive complaints, fatigue and joint pain.
When to inspect for mould
If you can see it or smell it, you have mould in your house. You need to discover the magnitude of the mould infestation! Seeing mould in the cracks and corners of your walls means it is growing and spreading more spores. Mould may also grow in places you cannot see, such as on your ceilings or in your cupboards. It may also form colonies so tiny they escape the eye. A few situations should make you look for any mould problems in your house.
Water damage. If your bathroom flooded, the roof leaked, or a broken pipe sprayed water all over the kitchen, you need to inspect for mould. Any wet area not quickly dried (within 24 hours) could become contaminated by mould.
If you are purchasing a pre-owned home there is no way to know what kind of water damage may have happened in the house. The only way to find out if mould is present is to do a mould inspection.
After a house has been unoccupied. Houses closed up and unoccupied for a long time, may have humidity built up that could cause mould to grow. This is especially a problem in warmer areas with high humidity.
After mould remediation. If you have had a mould problem, have regular mould inspections to ensure it does not reappear.
You see some mould. If you notice some green, blue, black or white stuff growing in your house, do a mould inspection to make sure you find it all. It might not be restricted to one location.
A mould inspection vs. mould testing
If you are researching for a mould inspector, you will find different services and costs with mould inspections and mould testing.
A mould inspection simply confirms the presence of mould and generally defines the extent of the problem. The main purpose of a mould inspection is to identify the source or sources of the moisture that allows the mould to grow! The second most important purpose of the mould inspection is to recommend solutions to eradicate the sources of moisture!
Mould testing attempts to identify what specific type of mould is in your home and how many mould spores are in the air. However, keep in mind the following:
The carefully controlled conditions required to conduct a proper scientific test of mould are extremely difficult to achieve in a home. Mould testing, especially air testing, is often inaccurate. Air samples at best give a snapshot of the air in one location at one time. The samples do not represent the air conditions unless many air samples are taken over a long period of time. Air sampling typically overestimates or underestimates the number of mould spores in the air on average throughout the day.
All indoor spaces have mould spores that drift in from the outdoors. Mould tests will generally provide a long list of species, most of which are not growing in your home.
The WHO has set no guidelinesfor an acceptable amount of mould or mould spores in a house. WHO therefore agrees that mould testing is not always useful for this reason. Instead, they recommend hiring a professional inspector to look for why the mould is present.
Mould testing is expensive. Any money spent on mould testing will not be available for cleaning up the mould and fixing the water problem that led to the mould. Furthermore, the Laborities can take days or weeks to analyse samples. It is better to use this time to clean up the mould and fix the water problem. No recognised authoritative public agency recommends mould testing as a guide to the cleaning up of mould or the correction of the water problem.
What happens during a mould inspection?
A mould inspection is a visual inspection of a house. Aside from a good flashlight and camera, the specialised equipment needed is a moisture meter, a humidity meter, a temperature meter and possibly an infrared camera. This equipment is used by the mould inspector in determining whether a particular area is wet, humid and warmer than other areas of the home.
A typical mould inspection involves finding out about any areas where you have seen mould, or where there have been moisture problems or water damage in the past. I inspect the house thoroughly, inside and outside, looking in places known to be prone to mould growth. When I find mould, I try to find the source of the moisture that is causing the mould spores to grow and suggest a remediation plan.
Mould inspectors must have a mould certification. I am mould inspection certified and experienced in mould inspection and mould remediation.
Factors affecting the cost of a mould inspection
The size of the house being inspected is the main factor affecting the cost of a mould inspection. Quite simply, a large house is going to cost more to inspect because the inspection and the report are going to take longer.
The second factor is the travelling cost! The further away from my office the more it will cost. However, you will find that in my inspection area, my prices are substantially less than those of other mould inspectors.
The cost of a mould inspection
As a rough guideline, mould inspection costs about ⅔ the cost of a comprehensive home inspection. On average, mould inspection costs around R1,500 to R2,000 for small to medium-sized houses (up to 250 m²) depending on how far the property is from my office. Above 250 m², the cost increases to the R2000 to R3000 range. Keep in mind that these costs are for inspection only and do not include testing. Skipping unnecessary mould testing can save you a lot of money.
Finding the right mould inspector
Look for an InterNACHI inspector with specific experience and expertise in mould inspections and remediation. Call around your area and get a few quotes. There might be a wide price range, so shopping around could save you a few hundred Rand.
Importantly, you want to make sure you only work with a properly certified inspector.
Remediation after the inspection
If the mould inspection finds or confirms mould in your home, the next step is to make a remediation plan. This always begins with removing the source of the moisture that’s allowing the mould to grow. If you fail to remove the moisture, you can clean up all the mould and it will just grow back again.
Following that, you can scrub and wash hard surfaces with specialised chemical cleaners. Surfaces such as carpets, timber, laminate and similar finishes will have to be cut out or lifted up and replaced. You will then have to treat hard surfaces below these finishes. It is impossible to clean all the mould off of porous surfaces. Furniture, mattresses and built-in units should be discarded.
You need not hire a qualified contractor for mould remediation of smaller areas. However, mould can be dangerous, or at least unpleasant to work with,especially for someone with allergies or asthma. Professionals with the correct safety gear and cleaning equipment are better qualified to deal with large areas.
Preventing mouldbefore it starts
Getting rid of mould in your house can be a major task, and remediation can be expensive if the mould is widespread. The best solution to mould problems is to prevent them from ever happening. Here are some tips on preventing mould:
Repair leaks promptly whether it is a leak in your roof, a window or a leaking water pipe. Fix leaks and keep moisture out of your house.
Clean and dry things promptly. If your bathroom or laundry floods or condensation from your air-conditioner drips onto a carpet, dry everything out within 24 hours, if possible. Mould needs moisture to grow, so prompt drying is vital.
Control humidity. Extremely humid aircan provide enough moisture for mould to form on some surfaces. Use a dehumidifier in humid and damp areas and run air-conditioning when possible during the summer. Keep windows open or install vents in your kitchen and bathroom windows. This will keep humidity down and keep moisture under control.
Mould is a serious problem, and spotting mould contamination before it grows out of control can save you many thousands of Rands. This makes the cost of a mould inspection well worth a few thousand Rand, especially when you are buying a new house. Mould testing, however, is not worthwhile. The important thing is, if you see mould in your house, you need to get rid of it, and the reason it has formed as soon as possible!
Indoor air pollution, mould and asthma are a serious issues in many homes!
When it comes to assessing your family’s indoor air environment there are 5 categories of concern to consider! South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs is not concerned with residential indoor air quality! As a result, we need to learn what indoor air quality is from America’s Environmental Protection Agency. They have identified 5 danger levels of indoor pollution. Indoor air pollution is a major human health issue worldwide under normal conditions. However, poor indoor air quality and mould cause asthma attacks that are worsened when you and your family spend most of your time indoors.
Homes with windows and doors closed lack adequate ventilation. In addition, the lack of airbricks increased insulation and better-sealing windows and doors make new homes much more energy-efficient than older houses. As a result, in new homes, it is even more difficult to get fresh clean air into the home.
Did you know that one way to identify a mould problem in your home is by watching your water bill? Leaks and damp surfaces are primed for mould growth, especially in areas that are prone to collection surfaces and warmth—think your bathrooms, kitchen and basement.
In addition to leaky pipes, many people don’t realize that mould can form in other disguised areas of your home such as on your mattress. Whether you sleep in a damp room, spill a glass of water that is absorbed into your mattress, or sweat a lot at night, your mattress may be primed for mould growth. Mattresses can include soft, porous materials such as cotton covers or foam comfort layers, any of which can absorb moisture both inside and outside of your mattress.
So, while you may know to check your pipes or
understand that your basement, kitchen, and bathrooms are often culprits of
leaks and potential areas of mould growth, keep in mind that places such as
your bedroom may hide a serious mould problem.
Here are five ways indoor mould causes sleeploss
Mould impacts the air quality in your house by releasing glucans which can cause an inflammatory response to your respiratory system. In turn, it affects your ability to breathe effectively by prompting your body to go into a fix-it mode such as an increase in mucus production which builds up and makes it difficult to breathe.
It is estimated that nearly a billion people worldwide are affected by sleep apnea.Sleep apnea is a dangerous and potentially deadly problem wherein a person momentarily stops breathing. The result is gasping or snoring as the person’s brain tries to readjust breathing. Sleep apnea and sleep loss are caused by the blockage or narrowing of the airways that is often the result of congestion associated with mould.
In our cities, the air we breathe is not clean. Coal plants and factories belch out harmful CO2, trucks and cars spew filthy exhaust fumes. Many families in our cities rely on coal and wood fires for heating and cooking. On the outskirts of the city, cows and other farm animals add methane to the mix. Sometimes just looking out your window at all the pollution may be enough to make you stay indoors.
The degradation ofindoor air quality can be worse than outdoor pollution. Pollutants can build up more in the much smaller closed-up area of your home. They may not be ventilated to the outside.
You may think indoor air pollution does not apply to you. In addition, you don’t live near a highway, farm or industrial plant. You don’t smoke and you don’t use a wood-burning stove. However, the air you breathe may still be polluted.
Some very surprising sources cause indoor air pollution:
Your house itself.
The land on which your house is constructed.
Furthermore, we spend a large portion of our time indoors. Indoor pollution can then becomes a serious concern.
Side effects of air pollution
Some side effects of indoor pollution is maybe a little worse than the common cold. However, pollution can lead to coma, lung cancer and death if you are exposed over a long period. Continue reading “Air Pollution in Your Home”