If you ask the guy at your local Home Depot, you’ll get one opinion. If you ask an accredited Indoor Air Quality Investigator, you’ll get another opinion. And if you search the Internet, you’ll get another 50 opinions. As consumers, the best we can do is to become well informed, with plenty of facts and figures to make educated decisions. Clearly, every situation presents its own set of criteria – if the mould is widespread, in a home, public place, or building this is not a project for the layperson. At the same time, with some mould species being toxic, there are potential health hazards that should not to be taken lightly. Without doubt, these are instances where a licensed professional should be engaged.
It could be said that mould is more predominant today than it was 20 or 30 years ago. Because our homes, apartments, and condos have become more energy efficient, our windows and doors are more tightly sealed, and air circulation is compromised. In some cases, we are just circulating and re-circulating our indoor air. As well, with the advent of air conditioning and humidifying units, our indoor spaces are experiencing higher than normal levels of humidity and/or condensation.
It’s true that we can see mould when we notice that “black stuff” around the bathtub, or on the windowsill. Or we might smell that musty odour in a certain area of the home. But mould can be tricky – it can hide and thrive behind walls and above ceilings, and it can actually persist without any smell at all. But we know something is wrong when our health starts to suffer. And symptoms like sinus irritations, burning eyes, and headaches are not good signs. Without doubt, the detection and isolation of hidden mould must be left to the experts.
Mould specialists are just that – because detection, assessment, testing and remediation are all specialties. A reputable company comes with credentials: they employ accredited experts who understand the world of mould; their experience and expertise encompasses a broad range of environmental situations; and they are equipped with state-of-the-art instruments and high-tech equipment. Whatever the case, a respectable firm will present themselves as impartial and objective. Mould detection will be carried out using the appropriate diagnostic tools, in a thorough and systematic manner. Testing of mould, air particles and mould spores will be handled by third party laboratories, with documented results available to the consumer. And finally, a good company will present a comprehensive report of findings that is understandable to the layperson.
In Canada, both Health Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation recommend contacting a trained Indoor Air Quality Investigator for advice and counsel about indoor air quality. However, its up to us as consumers to research, select and choose a contractor that meets our specific needs. Certainly, a licensed, accredited service provider is preferential, especially when family health is concerned. And any good service firm will encourage customers to be knowledgeable, informed and able to make sound decisions.