Can Air Filters Remove Asbestos?

In 2018, the Canadian government issued a ban on the import and export of asbestos and asbestos containing materials (ACMs), as well as the manufacturing of, selling, or trading of products that contain asbestos, with some exceptions including allowing the military and nuclear facilities to still use the material.

 

Despite this victory, many Canadian homes built prior to 1990 still contain ACMs, so it is understandable that many homeowners are concerned. These are the kinds of questions we hear as asbestos removal Red Deer specialists.

 

What is Asbestos and Can Air Filters Remove Asbestos?

 

Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous material that can cause cancer and other diseases, and is found in some building insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, as well as furnaces and heating systems. Asbestos cannot harm you unless it is airborne, so an air filter may remove asbestos if the source has already been properly taken care of.

What Types of Air Filters Can Remove Asbestos?

 

Some of the most common types of air filters are ultraviolet purifiers, activated carbon air purifiers, ionic air purifiers, and HEPA filters. HEPA systems are the only filters known to effectively handle asbestos. HEPA stands for, “High Efficiency Particulate Arresting”, and these types of filters are held to an industry standard to trap 99.97% of all particles 0.3-microns or larger. HEPA filters are able to remove ultra-fine particles like dust, dander, pollen, mold, smoke and asbestos. Asbestos particles can be anywhere between 0.7-90 microns, so the HEPA filter has no problem with them. HEPA filters are so effective that the CDC requires their use in their Guideline for Isolation Precautions for preventing the spread of infectious agents.

 

Will a HEPA Filter Remove All the Asbestos in My House?

 

A HEPA filter can remove almost any particle over 0.3-microns in size, but if the source of the contamination is still in the home, there is only so much a filter can do. The best course of action is to hire a professional asbestos worker to safely remove the source, then use a HEPA filter to remove any remaining particles. You should not try to discard asbestos-contaminated material on your own, as any moving or jostling of the particles will release them into the air you are breathing. The Government of Alberta, in accordance with Occupational Health and Safety codes, requires anyone working in an area with asbestos to take a training program before handling materials, so you certainly shouldn’t try to do this on your own.

 

If you are concerned about asbestos in your home, the best thing to do is to stay away from the area, do not disturb it in any way, and contact a professional asbestos worker to inspect/remove the material. Throughout the process and afterwards, a HEPA air filter will be able to remove any remaining asbestos particles.

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What’s the Difference Between Mold and Mildew?

Many people use the term “mold” and “mildew” interchangeably so there is some obvious confusion over the difference between the two. It’s important to understand what each one is before taking action when you believe you have a mold or mildew problem in your home.

There are some subtle differences between mold and mildew, and although they are both fungi that grow in moist conditions, they can be differentiated and treated individually. This will help you decide if you need Red Deer mold removal services.

CleaningHow Can I Tell if I have Mold or Mildew Just By Looking?

Just because they are both in the fungus family, doesn’t mean they will appear or even act the same. If you find white, gray or yellow spots that appear fluffy or like a powder growing on a surface that is located in a warm and moist area of your home, you have mildew.

Conversely, mold appears green or black with a fuzzy or even slimy texture. Mold tends to grow in places that have been exposed to water directly.

Where do Mold and Mildew Typically Grow?

As a fungus, both mold and mildew can grow quickly under warm and wet conditions. They do differ, however, on where they prefer to grow.

Mildew can often be found on surfaces that were once wet and have remained damp. These might include towels, paper, or leather. Within a home, mildew may also be seen on floors, walls, or ceilings in rooms that have high levels of humidity, like kitchens, bathrooms, and basements.

It’s not uncommon for mildew to grow on old fruits or vegetables, but those areas are typically where you’ll find mold. As well, mold can be found both indoors and outdoors on surfaces that have been soaked. Look for mold in the bathroom, on window sills, or after a flood.

Do Mold and Mildew React the Same Way on Surfaces?

In terms of a reaction, to both surfaces and to the people in the area, mold and mildew offer different effects. Mildew will essentially “eat” the food on which it grows but will not harm other surfaces. Plus, inhaling mildew spores may lead to coughing and headaches.

Mold is a much more serious matter. It can destroy anything it touches given enough time. On top of that, mold can cause major health issues, including respiratory and heart problems, joint pain, severe headaches, general fatigue, and depression. So preventing and treating mold quickly is very important.

How Can I Eliminate Mold or Mildew?

Each type of fungus has its own characteristics, so they need to be treated differently. Mildew usually only takes a mildew cleaning solvent and a scrub brush to get rid of it.

Mold is a different matter entirely because of health risks. If you see mold, it’s likely you have a bigger problem than is obvious, so removal is best left to the professionals. Eliminating a small patch of mold can be handled with a bit of bleach in some water when necessary.

Now that you know the difference between mold and mildew, it’s easy to treat.

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Can There Be Asbestos in Your Attic?

Almost everyone has and will be exposed to some form of asbestos, but it is those who are exposed to it on a regular basis, either from a working environment or living in a home with asbestos containing materials (ACMs), that are at risk for disease.

 

Asbestos has been classified as a known human carcinogen by at least three different world agencies, including the International Agency for Research on Cancer, so it is wise to determine if you may be at risk. This is one of the common questions we are asked as experts in asbestos removal in Red Deer.

 

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals made up of thin, needle-like fibers. These fibers have most often been used in building insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, car and truck brake pads as well as industrial furnaces and heating systems. Despite their many uses, the Canadian government recognizes that inhaling asbestos particles can cause cancer and other diseases, so it is important to be aware of potential asbestos-contaminated materials in your home. If you have a particular brand of insulation in your home, you may have asbestos in your attic.

 

How do I Know if There is Asbestos in My Attic?

 

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Zonolite Attic Insulation was widely popular in both the United States and Canada, so much so that the government of Canada offered a grant to anyone that would use Zonolite in their homes. Unfortunately, one of the materials in this product was found to be contaminated with asbestos, it’s called Vermiculite and looks like this….

 

Vermiculite, when expanded, is a light-weight, fire-resistant and odorless material great for many types of products. The Vermiculite that Zonolite Attic Insulation used was taken from a mine in Libby, Montana, but the fact that it was contaminated wasn’t discovered until after 70% of all the Vermiculite in the US was mined from Libby, so a majority of homes built during that time were contaminated, including homes in Canada. Zonolite was estimated to still be in about 300,000 homes across the Canada in 2008.

 

If the insulation in your home looks like the pictures above, it is most likely Vermiculite insulation and highly likely it is contaminated.

 

How Do I Keep My Family Safe From Asbestos-Contaminated Insulation in My Attic?

Asbestos must be airborne for it to be dangerous, so the best thing you can do is to not disturb the insulation in any way. The more you handle it or jostle it through construction or other means, the more particles that are released into the air and the more likely you are to inhale it.

Exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing lung diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma. If you have Vermiculite insulation in your attic, do not store boxes there, let children play in the area, or try to remove the insulation yourself.

If you plan to conduct renovations on your attic or have any insulation removed, it is best to hire a professional asbestos contractor.

 

For more information on asbestos and relevant health and safety regulations, visit https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/chemical-substances/chemicals-management-plan/initiatives/asbestos.html

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Primary Causes of Mold in Buildings

Mold in your home is not only unsightly but it’s also dangerous, particularly for those with existing health problems.

But how can you prevent mold growth in your home before you need mold removal Red Deer services? To answer that, let’s take a look at some of the primary causes of mold in buildings and what to look for if you suspect mold in your living space.

What Causes Mold?

Mold begins to grow quite easily and quickly when there is a moisture buildup within the home. While a flood can be an obvious issue that may result in mold, there are some other, not so obvious problems that can lead you down the same path.

  • Water leaks from outside your home or from your pipes could easily create the right conditions for mold to start growing. These leaks could be from your roof, windows, foundation, or even your plumbing.
  • High indoor humidity may not pool water throughout your home but it can allow mold spores to settle on any surface and grow from there. In most cases, you can identify when it’s too humid in your home by checking the moisture on your windows. That’s why the bathroom is a prime spot for mold, especially if you’ve taken a shower without the fan running or the window open.
  • Insufficient exhaust fans in the kitchen, just like in the bathroom, could lead to mold there too. Imagine a boiling pot of water steaming the kitchen up without the use of the fan.
  • Poor insulation is another culprit for mold growth, particularly in rooms over a garage or other cold space.

What to Look for When Checking for Mold?

Once you know what causes mold, too much moisture where it doesn’t belong, it’s easier to understand what to look for so you can prevent it.

If you find black, brown or green fuzzy spots or patches around your home, that’s a sure sign of a serious problem. This can be a sign that there is not only mold where you find it, but it could also be where you can’t even look, like behind walls and ceilings.

Check to see if your walls feel damp and check your windows for these spots. You may also notice a musty odour. This will tell you that there is mold growth somewhere in the room and you just need to find it.

How Can You Prevent Mold?

In any home, the battle between you and mold is constant, but it is a winnable fight. Start by controlling your temperature and humidity levels with the proper insulation and even a dehumidifier.

Maintaining a home’s structure, from the roof to the caulking and the interior walls, will also help keep mold under control.

Finally, ensure your home is well ventilated by having your roof inspected for the right venting and making good use of your fans in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Mold can start growing before you know it and it spreads quickly. Making sure you understand the causes of mold growth can help with prevention.

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