RE: MOULD SURVEY BASEMENT APARTMENT WINNIPEG, MANITOBA

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1 Practical Health and Safety Solutions Doug Wylie, CIH, ROH, CRSP, CRM 121 Keedian Drive, East St. Paul, MB R2E 0K3 Phone (204) Fax (204) RE: MOULD SURVEY BASEMENT APARTMENT WINNIPEG, MANITOBA Dear Client: A concern had arisen regarding mould in the basement apartment at the above address. The specifics concerns raised included: visible mould, mould/musty odour, water staining, and signs of water damage. At your request, mould testing was performed at this location Background Information Mould is found everywhere in the environment. Air testing taken outside or inside any building will always find the presence of some mould. Mould is an agent of opportunity. Mould requires moisture in terms of water intrusion or wet building material to start to grow inside a building or structure. Water intrusion brings its own disadvantages in terms of water damage and water staining. Water damage in walls is often seen along the outside walls of the structure particularly near the bottom of walls, just below the ceiling and beneath windows (usually the corner of windows). Water damage in ceilings can occur anywhere and can result from direct water intrusion from a leak in the roof or indirectly in the form of condensation in the attic which drips onto the ceiling of the room below. High humidity, in the form of unvented showering or laundry activities can also provide the moisture needed for mould growth in some circumstances. Observations An initial walkthrough and inspection was performed of the apartment. The apartment was musty at the time of the inspection. Signs of water damage in terms of warping of wallboards were apparent. There also appeared to be visible mould on bedding linen and on the south wall of the apartment. Testing Methodology Air Testing 1

2 Air testing was conducted at to quantify and identify the species of mould present in the air at the time of the survey. The air samples were collected by drawing a known volume of air (120 liters) through an Air-O-Cell cassette. An Air-0-Cell cassette has an adhesive tape inside of it. As air is drawn through the cassette, airborne particles including mould spores are impacted upon and adhere to this tape. The samples were subsequently sent to an accredited laboratory for analysis. The tape is analyzed under a microscope by an experienced mycologist who identifies the types of moulds and quantifies the number of each type of mould in the sample. By using the known volume of the air sample, the results can also be expressed as the number of spores per cubic meter of air. In this manner, the sample properly characterizes the airborne mould concentrations at the time of the test. In addition, another sample was taken in an identical manner outside of the building (in the backyard of the building in this case) to provide a control sample to assist in the interpretation of the indoor sample results. Surface Testing In addition to the air testing, two surface samples were taken. The collection of surface samples involves wetting a sterile swab with distilled water and physically wiping the surface to be tested. Material on the surface being tested including mould is transferred to the swab. The material on the swab was subsequently analyzed under microscope at an accredited laboratory. The laboratory identifies the types of mould present on the swab. The primary information obtained from a surface sample collected in this manner is the presence / absence of mould, and semi-quantitative information on the amount of mould. One surface sample was collected on the middle of the south wall of the basement apartment. This area appeared to have visible mould growing on the surface of the wall. A second sample was collected in the rear entranceway to the building. There is an alcove off of the door to the back yard. A surface sample was collected on the north (outside) wall of this alcove in an identical manner as the sample collected in the basement apartment. Criteria for Evaluation There are no specified numerical standards for mould. An assessment for mould is performed by comparing results in an area of concern to background or outside levels. The presence of elevated moulds levels indoors relative to outdoors, elevated moulds relative to other parts of the building, or significant amount of uncommon moulds (moulds other than alternaria and cladosporium which are very common moulds in the outdoor environment) which were not present in the outdoor sample are typically signs of concern. In addition, the findings or air testing should be considered in light of physical observations at the site. The combination of air testing and surface sampling provides the best evaluation of potential mould in a building. Results 2

3 Air Test Results A copy of the air testing results are appended to this report. In contrast to the outside sample, the air sample collected in the basement apartment had a very high level of aspergillus / penicillium mould spores. These types of mould are commonly found in or on furnishings and on/inside the walls where wet conditions are or have been present. In my experience, an airborne result of 9,700 spores per cubic meter of air is unusually high even in areas where mould has been reported as a concern. The absence of aspergillus / penicillium in the outside air sample is a strong indication that the source of the mould is inside the basement apartment as these moulds were not present in any significant amount in the outdoor ambient conditions at the time of the testing. Thus, the air testing results indicate that aspergillus / penicillium mould is present the basement apartment. Surface Test Results The sample collected from the south wall of the basement apartment shows numerous spores of aspergillus / penicillium the same moulds of concern identified in the air testing conducted in the basement apartment. This surface sample also showed a few cladosporium spores. The sample collected in the rear entryway showed only a few cladosporium spores. The finding of aspergillus / penicillium spores in the sample collected on the basement apartment wall and the absence of these moulds in the sample collected in the rear entranceway is another indication of mould growth in the basement apartment. Conclusions The apartment was musty at the time of the inspection. There were signs of what appeared to be mold both on the wall and on bedding linen. Air testing showed what, in my opinion, is very high levels of the types of moulds typically associated with water intrusion and mould growth on building materials. A surface test performed on the wall of the apartment showed the presence of the same moulds. Testing (both air and surface) for mould outside the apartment did not reveal the significant presence of mould. It is my opinion that mould at levels of concern were present in the basement at the time of the inspection. I hope this information is of assistance to you. Should you have any questions or if I can be of any further assistance, please contact me at (204) Doug Wylie, CIH, ROH, CRSP, CRM Occupational Hygienist Winnipeg Air Testing 3

4 Copy of Laboratory Results of Air Testing Basement Apartment Outside 4

5 Laboratory Results of Surface Samples 5

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