Mould in Housing

This series developed in partnership between CMHC and Health Canada provides First Nation communities with basic information on mould in the home, how to identify it, clean small areas and prevent future growth.

  • (Opening Sequence. TEXT on Screen: Advice, Support, Protection, Prevention, Detection, Testing, Samples, Strategies, Design, Renovation, Cleanup, Building, Mould.)

    Title. TEXT on Screen: Mould in Housing

    Chapter 1: Health Effects of Mould

    (Images of barren wilderness of Sioux Narrows, Ontario, and a street sign that reads: Northwest Angle Rd.)

    AILEEN OSHIE-WHITE: My name's Aileen Oshie-White and I'm Chief of Northwest Angle 37.

    TEXT on Screen: Aileen Oshie-White, Chief, Northwest Angle 37, First Nation

    AILEEN OSHIE-WHITE: I've always had a great love for my community.I've pretty much grown up here most of my life. I've seen it grow. I mean, as small as it is, it's grown quite a lot since I was a little girl. I really have a big heart for my community.

    MARY ANN COWLEY: My name is Mary Ann Cowley and I am the Housing Manager for our First Nation, Northwest Angle 37.

    TEXT on Screen: Mary Ann Cowley, Housing Manager, Northwest Angle 37, First Nation

    MARY ANN COWLEY: I maintain the housing stock. I work closely with the chief and council, training, basic home maintenance, HRV maintenance, mould remediation.

    (Images of snow falling on homes.)

    AILEEN OSHIE-WHITE: I know with some homes in our community, in the past few years, we've had, like, extreme levels of mould in the home where we've had to complete, like, renovation.

    MARY ANN COWLEY: I did have a couple tenants come regarding mould issues, more of in the crawlspace area. So I think it is a community issue.

    TEXT on Screen: Mould is affecting the indoor air quality in homes in many first nation communities

    TEXT on Screen: Keith Smith, Environmental Health Officer, Health Canada

    KEITH SMITH: My name's Keith Smith. I'm an Environmental Health Officer. Environmental health officers actually go out to the First Nations and work with the First Nations people to help them in any issues that may come about in the natural or built environment that may affect their health.

    KEITH SMITH: Mould for housing is an issue because there are health implications for it for those people that are more vulnerable, immuno-compromised, the older people, the younger people, those ones are more susceptible to it.

    AILEEN OSHIE-WHITE: There have been cases in our community where a few people have gotten sick with it. Some quite ill, in the hospital right now.Was almost life threatening actually.

    TEXT on Screen: Commonly diagnosed health conditions:

    Allergies (11.4%)

    Asthma (10.1%)

    Dermatitis or Atopic Eczema (7.9%)

    Chronic ear infections (6.9%)

    RHS 2008/10 Child Survey – Chapter 33: Health Conditions and Health Status

    MARY ANN COWLEY: Mould itself does affect our health and our wellbeing.I do remember hearing of families with, like, asthma problems.

    TEXT on Screen: Health Risks of Mould

    * Eyes, nose and throat irritation

    * Coughing and phlegm build-up

    * Wheezing and shortness of breath

    * Symptoms of asthma

    * Allergic reactions

    KEITH SMITH: For those people that are immuno-compromised, it really seems like you get more colds, more flu-like symptoms.That can be an indication that you're getting a little bit too much mould into your system and it's negatively impacting on you.

    (Residents step outside onto their porch in the marshy community of Windigo Island.)

    AILEEN OSHIE-WHITE: Now that I've seen more people having asthma problems, we're trying to educate ourselves, educate our people, and hopefully we can take more preventative measure in dealing with mould.

    KEITH SMITH: For all of the First Nations that I've ever been to and worked–had the pleasure of working with, they really do have a good sense of community and that can lead to a really, really effective method for getting rid of, or making sure, that mould doesn't grow, because, really, what you want is everybody doing their part.

    TEXT on Screen: Visit cmhc.ca/firstnations or www.Canada.ca/health for more information

    TEXT on Screen: Presented by

    CMHC

    Health Canada

    and the Government of Canada

    Health Effects of Mould
    Mould in housing can have health implications. Through education and prevention, indoor air quality can be improved.
  • Opening Sequence. TEXT on Screen: Advice, Support, Protection, Prevention, Detection, Testing, Samples, Strategies, Design, Renovation, Cleanup, Building, Mould.

    Title. TEXT on Screen: Mould in Housing

    Chapter 2: Identifying Roles

    TEXT on Screen: Responsibilities for Mould Ceanup: Usually shared between the key members of the community, including residents, housing department staff, councillors and mould remediation contractors. Mould problems are easier to deal with if all the key players work as a team.

    DON KAVANAUGH: My name's Don Kavanaugh and I sit on council for Northwest Angle number 37.

    TEXT on Screen: Don Kavanaugh, Council, Housing Portfolio, Northwest Angle 37, First Nation

    DON KAVANAUGH: Northwest Angle 37 is comprised of two communities. There's Regina Bay and then there's Windigo Island. There used to be a number of houses with mould issues, including my house, but there are houses that there's just a recurring problem even though they cleaned up, and it's just back again in a few days.

    TEXT on Screen: In many communities, the housing department is the key player in mould prevention and remediation.

    TEXT on Screen: Mary Ann Cowley, Housing Manager, Northwest Angle 37, First Nation (in band office)

    MARY ANN COWLEY: It is a community issue, as to our community members, our staff, our attendants, to know the signs of mould and be trained on how to properly remove the mould.

    TEXT on Screen: First Nations housing departments can play a role by providing information on mold to community members.

    DON KAVANAUGH: The residents need to be aware and they need to identify how it develops in the house.

    TEXT on Screen: Aileen Oshie-White, Chief, Northwest Angle 37, First Nation (in band office)

    AILEEN OSHIE-WHITE: Hopefully we can have comfortable worry-free homes. They don't have to worry about any structural or mould issues, where they're assured that their–they have a healthy home.

    TEXT on Screen: Healthy Homes

    Healthy Communities

    TEXT on Screen: Cullen Robb, Technical Services Advisor, Anishinaabeg of Kabapikotawangag Resource Council (on building site)

    CULLEN ROBB: I think it's everybody's role to prevent mould. The homeowner has to understand what causes mould growth and some of the things that can lead to that.

    CULLEN ROBB: The homeowner has no idea how sometimes these systems work, so it's important that before they move in, you take them there and you show them, you know, this is what this piece of equipment does, this is how it works, this is how you clean and maintain it.So if you don't do that, how do you expect them to know what to do?

    Keith Smith, Environmental Health Officer, Health Canada (in band office)

    KEITH SMITH: When we're speaking to who can do what in regards to getting rid of mould, really you want everybody involved.

    TEXT on Screen: Keeping Mould at Bay:

    Housing Managers, Chief & Council, Environmental Health Officers

    Ensure mould problems get dealt with properly

    Contractors & Renovators

    Clean up mould, take care of the causes and restore houses

    Builders

    Construct homes that are moisture and mould resistant

    Technical Service Providers, Inspectors

    Ensure clean up and renovation are done properly

    Residents, Maintenance Staff

    Maintain houses to keep mould-free

    KEITH SMITH: And that includes, you know, Chief & Council; it includes people like myself, the environmental health officer assisting in any way we can to give them the information on what mould is, what the health effects are, and really what–some of the things that they can do to protect their health.

    TEXT on Screen: We all have a role in maintaining healthy homes and communities

    AILEEN OSHIE-WHITE: I think we can all take more of a collective approach in terms of the resources we have in our community, with our health workers, our project manager, housing managers. Also, even with the construction workers themselves, then the people, the residents themselves.

    MARY ANN COWLEY: I would really like our tenants and housing staff, also our employees of the First Nation to gain the knowledge of maintaining our homes.

    DON KAVANAUGH: I think people are more comfortable in saying they, you know, have a mould problem because there's something that they can do. And it's up to everybody. Yes, everybody. It's a community thing. It's not really any individual's responsibility to look after the housing in our community; it's a community thing.

    (Snow falls on a small house.)

    KEITH SMITH: You want to be able to give the people there the power to be able to deal with it themselves. You want to empower them.You want to give them all that information, give them the tools and show them how to use it, because it really is simple steps, but they may not know that and as long as we provide that information and the tools and show them how to do it, then they're that much richer for it.

    TEXT on Screen: Visit cmhc.ca/firstnations or www.Canada.ca/health for more information

    TEXT on Screen: Presented by

    CMHC

    Health Canada

    and the Government of Canada

    Identifying Roles
    The responsibilities for mould clean-up must be shared between the residents and the community. Mould problems are easier to deal with if all the key players work as a team.
  • Opening Sequence. TEXT on Screen: Advice, Support, Protection, Prevention, Detection, Testing, Samples, Strategies, Design, Renovation, Cleanup, Building, Mould.

    Title. TEXT on Screen: Mould in Housing

    Chapter 3: Assessing A Suspected Mould Problem

    (Snow falls down as cars drive through a remote First Nations community.)

    Keith Smith, Environmental Health Officer, Health Canada (in band office)

    KEITH SMITH: Mould needs three things to grow. It needs moisture, it needs a food source and it needs the proper temperatures.

    TEXT on Screen: Excess moisture

    TEXT on Screen: Organic matter

    TEXT on Screen: Warm temperatures

    KEITH SMITH: But the underlying issue in the mould is actually the excess water or moisture.You ultimately want to be able to deal with that issue as soon as you can.

    When the environmental health officer goes into a house and does their inspection, one of the things that they're looking at is potential areas where you could get excess moisture, places like the windows, the doors, where there could potentially be not enough insulation.

    Keith Maracle, Trainer, CMHC (on building site)

    KEITH MARACLE: You can see it in whole corners, windowsills, under sinks where there's been a leaky tap, a leaky drain; anyplace where there's water moisture, you'll find mould. The ideal moisture level in a house is about 30%, 30 to 40%.

    You have to be able to detect it.There's a simple test that you can do. You can take a Q-tip in a little bit of Javex, wipe it on the black spot, if it comes off on the Q-tip, it's soot; if it goes away, it's mould.

    TEXT on Screen: Sample Mould Test

    • Apply bleach to the suspected mould
    • If the spot loses its colour or disappears treat it as mould
    • If there is no change, treat as dirt and clean accordingly

    KEITH SMITH: When you're looking at mould in your house, if it's little small patches of mould in one or two areas, then by all means, if you're comfortable doing it, clean it up, but when it's over one square metre, one of the recommendations that Health Canada says is that they should get somebody in that trained in the proper handling of mould and have them clean it up.

    TEXT on Screen: Mould cleanup contractors are professionally trained in mould remediation

    TEXT on Screen: Contact your housing manager or your local Environmental Health Officer (EHO) if you suspect that your home has:

    • 1 or more patches of mould larger than 1 m2
    • More than 3 patches of mould less than 1 m2
    • Patches of mould that keep coming back after cleaning
    • A mould problem that you cannot solve on your own

    KEITH SMITH: One of the reasons why I wanted the garbage bag is to give you an indication of one square metre.

    TEXT on Screen: Measure out 1 sq. metre

    KEITH SMITH: Basically you take your garbage bag, fold it in half.That is approximately one square metre.

    TEXT on Screen: Treating a Minor Mould Problem

    KEITH MARACLE: In your house, when you have mould in small areas and you need to clean up, all you would be required to use would be a mask.

    TEXT on Screen: Use a mask, rated N95

    Also, you should use household rubber gloves and protective glasses

    KEITH SMITH: Just take warm soapy water, wipe it down, let it dry, You're good to go.

    TEXT on Screen: When cleaning:

    Put on protective wear

    Prepare a bucket with water and a bit of dish detergent and another with clean water

    TEXT on Screen: Clean the surface

    Wipe the surface with a rag dipped in the soapy water

    Sponge with a clean, damp rag and dry quickly

    KEITH MARACLE: When you take the mask off, you put your hand over it like this, you've got gloves on.You take the–your hand–the glove like that off and then you drop it in the garbage.

    KEITH MARACLE: Hook your thumb on that one there.Pull it down over there and now just hold onto them and pull them both off your hands.

    TEXT on Screen: Remove gloves from inside out

    KEITH SMITH: In any home, it's only as healthy as the people make it. That is your home. Do all those little tiny things to ensure that your home is as healthy as it can be for you and your family and anybody who comes and visits you.

    KEITH SMITH: Anything above one square metre, you should really have somebody come in that has been trained in how to clean up areas of mould.If it's extensive and there is–it's all throughout the house, that might be a time when you actually want to pull people out of the house.It really does depend on the health of the people in the house and how much they're being exposed to that mould.

    TEXT on Screen: What can I do to prevent mould and moisture indoors?

    • Keep your house dry
    • Prevent and repair leaks
    • Control moisture that is produced within your house
    • Use bathroom fans
    • Use range hood fans
    • Store firewood outside
    • Regularly check your house for signs of mould
    • Act quickly to keep small problems from getting bigger

    TEXT on Screen: Visit cmhc.ca/firstnations or www.Canada.ca/health for more information

    TEXT on Screen: Presented by

    CMHC

    Health Canada

    and the Government of Canada

    Assessing A Suspected Mould Problem
    Mould problems can be small, medium or large—each requiring a different approach. Learn some tips to identify, remediate and prevent mould.
  • Opening Sequence. TEXT on Screen: Advice, Support, Protection, Prevention, Detection, Testing, Samples, Strategies, Design, Renovation, Cleanup, Building, Mould.

    Title. TEXT on Screen: Mould in Housing

    Chapter 4: Renovating Houses to Prevent Mould

    TEXT on Screen: Sometimes, it takes more than cleaning and fixing a moisture problem to deal with mould. Longer term solutions may require renovations

    Keith Maracle, Trainer, CMHC (inspecting home)

    KEITH MARACLE: If you have a really bad mould remediation going on and it's not only in the basement or in the crawlspace, it's in the main part of the house and every room is affected by it, it's quite a job because everything that's in that mouldy house, as it's taken out, should be washed down.

    KEITH MARACLE: The house as a system is interconnected because it's all got to work together to control the air in the house.

    TEXT on Screen: Treat the house as a system; where the building envelope, mechanical system & lifestyle habits are all interconnected

    KEITH MARACLE: Whether you got a crawlspace, you've got a basement, you got moisture down there, that's what caused your mould.

    TEXT on Screen: Foundation Renovations

    Deal with moisture that can seep up through the ground into the foundation of the house above.

    KEITH MARACLE: When we do renos on foundations we need to make sure that anything that we do in there, if we put any type of barrier on the ground, that these are connected.

    TEXT on Screen: Seal any opening between the house and the basement

    KEITH MARACLE: The biggest problem we find is downspouts.They're not leading away from the house; they're dropping straight down along the foundation,…

    TEXT on Screen: Make sure downspouts drain away from foundation walls

    KEITH MARACLE: …and it basically just drags it through the concrete. I've seen basements that's been 3½ feet up from the floor solid mould.

    TEXT on Screen: Install new perimeter drainage that runs to a clear exit

    TEXT on Screen: Insulate foundation walls

    Slope the grade away from the house

    TEXT on Screen: Ice Damming & the Roof

    Cullen Robb, Technical Services Advisor, Anishinaabeg of Kabapikotawangag Resource Council (on building site)

    CULLEN ROB: Ice damming is basically in the wintertime you'll see there's ice growing on the edge of your roof. If you got a warm space inside the home with moisture and it leaks up and there's not enough cool air to get in there and dry that up, or sometimes it is a lack of insulation, just too much heat is escaping into the attic and melting the snow and causing an ice dam.

    TEXT on Screen: Flashings

    KEITH MARACLE: Flashings are put on to divert water so one of the main ones that we like to–that we need to do is flashings over doors and windows. Flashings moves the water out away from the window a half, three-eights of an inch, and then it drips off, keeping it from getting in around windows and doors.

    TEXT on Screen: Use bathroom fans and kitchen range hood. Lower the indoor moisture levels.

    TEXT on Screen: Keep window coverings open to move the warm air over the windows. Dry your window frames and sills daily to keep water from dripping and causing mould to grow.

    TEXT on Screen: Make sure furniture does not block heat from floor registers or baseboard heaters and keep it from reaching the windows.

    KEITH MARACLE: When you see on the inside of the house, you see mould starting to form, there's some type of a leak, air leak there. And it's as simple sometimes as pull the baseboard and putting a little spray foam in there, or a bead of caulking.

    TEXT on Screen: You may need to replace your windows if you have tried all of these tips to reduce moisture without success

    TEXT on Screen: Condensation-resistant windows

    TEXT on Screen: Replace poorly-insulated windows & doors

    CULLEN ROB: It's important to replace windows and doors because some of the newer products out there today are a lot more efficient than in the past. We use kryptonite insulating in the windows, and some of the older windows and doors just did not perform as good.

    TEXT on Screen: Hot air + cold air = condensation & excess moisture

    TEXT on Screen: Ventilation System Renovations

    CULLEN ROBB: The solution for kitchen and bathrooms is to get rid of the excess moisture in the air and that's done through exhaust fans, or kitchen and bathroom fan, or in an HRV system.

    TEXT on Screen: Ventilation

    TEXT on Screen: Air filtration

    CULLEN ROBB: If someone is hanging their clothes to dry inside the home, that's not a good idea at all. You want to see that outside or in a dryer.

    Keith Smith, Environmental Health Officer, Health Canada (in band office)

    KEITH SMITH: If the dryer is vented inside, for every load of laundry you do, you're allowing two gallons of water per load into your house.

    TEXT on Screen: 1 load of laundry = 2 gallons of excess moisture

    KEITH SMITH: So that's an amazing amount of moisture you're actually introducing into your home that could lead to mould growth.

    TEXT on Screen: Adjusting Lifestyle Habits

    DON KAVANAUGH: Lifestyle plays a big role in whether you prevent mould or, or, or, or it occurs.

    Don Kavanaugh, Council, Housing Portfolio, Northwest Angle 37, First Nation (in band office)

    AILEEN OSHIE-WHITE: I think it may relate to overcrowding lifestyles in the home and poor ventilation. Yeah, but I think a lot of it is education.

    Aileen Oshie-White, Chief, Northwest Angle 37, First Nation (in band office)

    KEITH MARACLE: We talk about healthy housing and we talk about the indoor air quality in our houses, and if we had better indoor air quality, the whole family is going to be healthy.

    CULLEN ROBB: I really believe that healthy homes lead to healthy families.

    TEXT on Screen: Visit cmhc.ca/firstnations or www.Canada.ca/health for more information

    TEXT on Screen: Presented by

    CMHC

    Health Canada

    and the Government of Canada

    Renovating Houses to Prevent Mould
    Sometimes, it takes more than cleaning and fixing a moisture problem to deal with mould. Longer-term solutions may require renovations.
  • Opening Sequence. TEXT on Screen: Advice, Support, Protection, Prevention, Detection, Testing, Samples, Strategies, Design, Renovation, Cleanup, Building, Mould.

    Title. TEXT on Screen: Mould in Housing

    Chapter 5: Designing and Building Houses to Prevent Mould

    (Members of a First Nations community work together to construct a small wooden house.)

    Keith Maracle, Trainer, CMHC (on building site)

    KEITH MARACLE: Mould is probably the number one issue in First Nation housing, and the first thing you do when you walk into a house is you can smell it.

    Mary Ann Cowley, Housing Manager, Northwest Angle 37, First Nation (in band office)

    MARY ANN COWLEY: I did have couple tenants come regarding mould issues, because of the location of their houses, too.

    TEXT on Screen: Planning a New Build

    TEXT on Screen: Planning must take into account that some wet sites should be left vacant

    CULLEN ROBB: When a house gets started, before it's constructed, a set of plans are produced, specify how the house is to be built.

    Cullen Robb, Technical Services Advisor, Anishinaabeg of Kabapikotawangag Resource Council (on building site)

    CULLEN ROBB: We come and look at the site; we look at the foundations prior to concrete being poured.

    KEITH MARACLE: Well, the site, you want to try and keep it as high–get it as high, and get good drainage away from the building.

    KEITH MARACLE: You don't want any water lying around, pooling around the building. So the site is very important, and the type of soil you're going to build on. The number one issue is the foundation.

    TEXT on Screen: Setting the foundation

    KEITH MARACLE: We need to make sure that we disconnect them from the ground; we need to make sure we get them properly insulated; we need to make sure any groundcovers or air barriers we put down there, we connect them.

    TEXT on Screen: Crawlspaces can be a problem area

    CULLEN ROBB: Problems with crawlspaces is they're just not built properly in the first place; they're not sealed properly or insulated properly; they lack heat or mechanical ventilation, and that's a big problem down there.

    KEITH MARACLE: Your basement walls need to be insulated with the proper moisture barrier on the wall, and we really should be putting insulation under the slabs we're pouring in our basements.

    TEXT on Screen: Basements need proper insulation

    TEXT on Screen: Home Design Considerations

    KEITH MARACLE: When we get to the main floor, we need to make sure that the design over the main floor controls the mould.

    TEXT on Screen: Framing & insulation

    TEXT on Screen: Vapour & air barriers

    CULLEN ROBB: We look at the framing, the installation of the insulation, the vapour barrier and the air barrier systems

    KEITH MARACLE: When we get into the attics, we need to make sure that the trusses have high-heel designs on them.

    TEXT on Screen: Inspectors check all layers from the roof to the footings including the drainage surfaces

    KEITH MARACLE: What a high-heel truss does is it puts the end of it up high like that so we can put more insulation flush with the outside wall.

    TEXT on Screen: Prevent warm moist air from getting up into the attic by using a continuous air and vapour barrier system.

    KEITH MARACLE: We need good ventilation in our roofs so that any air that get–that's up in there we move it out and we control that.

    TEXT on Screen: Changing Focus

    Aileen Oshie-White, Chief, Northwest Angle 37, First Nation (in band office)

    AILEEN OSHIE-WHITE: We are actually looking into developing new areas.Hopefully we've selected good areas for these homes.We've taken into consideration our capital studies.

    MARY ANN COWLEY: The Capital Planning Study is our plan of everything in the community, which includes our housing, our infrastructure, our water treatment plans.

    AILEEN OSHIE-WHITE: Where most homes are located now in the community, there's really core areas is more swampy, marsh, wetland I guess, so we have to now look at developing into new areas.

    Don Kavanaugh, Council, Housing Portfolio, Northwest Angle 37, First Nation (in band office)

    DON KAVANAUGH: People are becoming more aware.They're talking more about mould.They're calling the band office to say that “I have a mould in my house.Is there anything that can be done?”So that's, to me, that's awareness building up, and then education needs to happen.How do you prevent it?

    AILEEN OSHIE-WHITE: Mould can be destructive but with education and building capacity within our community, I think we can take that proactive approach in any future housing or infrastructure developments.

    (Aileen grins widely)

    TEXT on Screen: Visit cmhc.ca/firstnations or www.Canada.ca/health for more information

    TEXT on Screen: Presented by

    CMHC

    Health Canada

    and the Government of Canada

    Designing and Building Houses to Prevent Mould
    With careful design, planning and supervision, houses can be built to be mould-resistant.

Canada

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