Indoor Air Quality
A range of monitoring and sampling services are available to assess a home or workplace current air quality. Mould and dust measurements are common contributors to an unhealthy indoor air quality. Send us an email with some details about what you would like monitored, we would love to help!
Our silica services include Quantitative identification of Crystalline Silica (quartz and cristobalite) in both air and bulk samples.
We can supply all the equipment required to carry out 'Silica in Air' sampling. This may be required for workplace compliance or a regular survey as part of your company Health and Safety Program.
Full instructions are included with the sampling kits or alternatively you can visit us here at the Laboratory for training in the use of the equipment.
We are able to test for the two most common forms of crystalline silica:
The same filter can be analysed for both quartz and cristobalite. The tests are non destructive.
What are Moulds?
Moulds are fungi that are found almost everywhere, inside and out all year round. Moulds are decomposers, breaking down organic matter, and can be various colours including white, green, red or black. Moulds reproduce by releasing microscopic spores into the air, which can enter homes through windows, doors, cracks, and vents.
Moulds need moisture to grow. Controlling moisture sources in your home is the most important step you can take to ensure your home remains mould free.
What are the health effects of mould in the home?
Exposure to mould and mould spores can cause a range of reactions. These include: eye irritation (watery, burning, itchy), runny nose, sneezing, nasal and sinus congestion, sore throat, coughing, wheezing, headaches, and fatigue.
Sensitivity to mould varies from person to person. One person may react severely to levels that cause no symptoms in another person. In general, the following groups are most susceptible to mould:
Infants and children
Immune compromised individuals
People with allergies; and
People with respiratory problems such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
How do I clean up mould in my home?
Any treatment of mould must begin with stopping the water coming into the area, whether it is from a leak, condensation, excessive humidity, or flooding. If an area is cleaned, but the moisture problem remains, the mould will return. Common sources of indoor moisture include: steam from showers and cooking; wet clothes drying indoors or clothes dryers that are not vented to the outside; flooding; leaky roofs or walls; plumbing leaks; overflow from gutters; overflow from sinks or sewers. Cleaning will temporarily increase the amount of mould and mould spores in the air. During cleaning, it is best to use disposable rubber gloves, goggles, and a mask - available at your local hardware store. Some moulds may also irritate the skin; so long sleeve shirts and pants are advisable for avoiding direct contact with mould, as well as protecting the person from skin contact with the cleaning agents in use. Make sure the area is well ventilated. Open windows and doors and use fans to create a path of fresh air into the cleanup area - that exits through the nearest opening to the outdoors. There is some evidence that chlorine bleach is ineefective against moulds, a mix of 80% vinegar and water is suitable (Dr Peter Kemp and Dr Heike Neumeister-Kemp—Mycologists, 2010). An article in Body and Soul magazine explains how household mould can be a health hazard.
What health effects can moulds cause?
Exposure to toxic moulds may irritate skin, eyes, nose, and throat, resulting in allergy-like symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, runny nose, and watery eyes.
Other symptoms such as fatigue and headache have also been reported.
Individuals who are allergic to moulds could experience asthmatic attacks upon exposure to moulds.
Exposure to Stachybotrys have additionally experienced burning in the nose, nose bleeds, severe coughing, and impairment of the immune system. Stachybotrys does not cause infection and is not spread from person to person. People with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to mould-related illness and should not work in mould-contaminated areas.
What is Stachybotrys?
In buildings with water damage or ongoing moisture problems, certain types of "water-loving" moulds may reproduce to higher than normal levels and potentially cause adverse health effects. Stachybotrys chartarum (formerly known as Stachybotrys atra) is of particular concern because it can be found in large colonies and can cause adverse health effects.
Stachybotrys appears as small black patches and grows well on water-soaked cellulose material such as wallpaper, ceiling tiles and insulation containing paper.
In addition to Stachybotrys, individuals living or working in water-damaged buildings may be exposed to other types of toxic moulds such as Fusarium, Aspergillus, and Penicillium.