What is more important next time you buy a home, Air Quality or Granite Counter-Tops?
In part #1, we talked about radon and the fact that more than 20,00 lung cancer deaths per year are attributed to radon. Yes, I wrote that correct, 20,000 per year annually! If that isn’t enough to curl your toes, today we begin to look at mold and the major impact it is having on health.
Without going to too much of the gory details, there are numerous types of mold and it seems mold is present almost everywhere. It is in the air we breath, to the foods we eat. Most molds do not appear to pose a major health problem, but there are some molds that are not as friendly. Some mold can cause serious health issues; one such mold is black mold often found growing in homes. Sensitivity to mold is highly individualistic, but children and the elderly are typically at increased risk.
“According to a 1999 Mayo Clinic Study, nearly all chronic sinus infections (afflicting 37 million Americans) are a result of molds. A 300% increase in the asthma rate of the past 20 years has been linked to molds (according to 1999 USA Today Cover Story).”
“The CDC reports more than 20 million people, including over 6 million children, have asthma, accounting for over 10 million outpatient clinic visits, nearly 2 million emergency department visits and nearly 4,500 deaths annually (2000). Asthma is the most common serious chronic disease of childhood, and the third-ranking cause of hospitalization among children under 15. In 2003, an estimated 12.8 million school days were missed due to asthma.31 The estimated cost of treating asthma in those under 18 is $3.2 billion per year.”
“Allergic response to mold include runny noses, itchy-watery eyes, coughing, sneezing, and throat irritation to more severe symptoms caused by chronic conditions such as sinusitis and asthma.” http://www.toxic-black-mold-info.com/moldhealth.htm
I have read a number of articles that says mold is on the rise, but they claim they don’t know why. In my humble, but expert opinion, it doesn’t take rocket science to understand why. Funny thing… since the mid-1980′s building codes began to change requiring much tighter and tighter building envelopes. Since that time mold has become increasingly a bigger and bigger problem in homes. Tighter building envelopes create the conditions for moisture (homes can’t breath), one of the critical elements for mold to grow. All it takes is a nail hole, a rip in the vapor barrier, glue missing someplace , gaps around electrical outlets, any number of construction imperfections and we all know that construction installation is 100% perfect, right?
Compound this with homeowners not even knowing they have HRV or ERV systems that need maintenance. When was the last time you maintained your mechanical fresh air system? Once I had a tornado reconstruction job and the customer complained about high moisture in the house, so we investigated. We discovered the HRV system had not had the filters cleaned since the house was built more than ten years prior. We knew this because the seal had not been broken. The HRV was literally packed full with dust, dirt and debris (Sorry Steve). The HRV was not working properly, which meant all moisture being created in the house could not leave and no fresh air was circulating. Do you think the conditions for mold were present? You bet. Mechanical ventilation is great, but it requires regular maintenance.
Then there is always the pursuit of greed that gets in the way too. About five years ago, I bought a bunch of beautiful executive houses from a certain national builder. I quickly sold them all except one which I proceeded to rent. After several years the tenant moved out and we had to paint the home and do some routine maintenance. Towards the end of the repairs, I was inspecting the house and noticed the exhaust fan in the upper hall main bath ran all the time. I tried to the wall switches, but they wouldn’t turn the fan off. Naturally, I thought something was wrong. I called in an electrician to check it out and he informed me the fan was “hard wired” and was the cheap way some builders address fresh air circulation code requirements. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. By code, the house is completely wrapped in plastic and does not have an HRV or ERV fresh air system. Instead, the bathroom exhaust fan serves to meet building code. The builder saved $1,500 (this was a supposedly $400,00 house), but in my mind the builder should have their license revoked permanently. This national builder put thousands of occupants at risk and the buyers probably have no clue.
Bottom-line, mold is a major problem, even in new home construction today. Building to the minimum building codes is still creating the conditions for mold to grow and create sick houses. There are better solutions, which Amaris employs.
Before we end todays blogging post, let’s take a test:
1) Some new homes have mold starting to grow the day they are delivered? True / False
2) Newer homes (post 1980) have more chance to have or grow mold? True / False
3) Your home may have mold, even if you can’t see it? True / False
3) Mold is dangerous to our health? True / False
Next up Formaldehyde and get answers to the test above.