Indoor
Environment Hygiene


The tests carried out by Services ecoPlus de Gatineau are based on scientific methods, measurements, samples and lab tests conducted by qualified and certified professionals.

We provide complete, expert service, including on-site inspection with state-of-the art scientific instruments, sampling and laboratory analyses.

Services ecoPlus: totally and exclusively at your service!

Services ecoPlus serves Gatineau, the Outaouais and National Capital Region.

Mold, air quality, radon Method, Testing and Certificate After Decontamination Humidity and Ventilation Laboratory Services

 

Molds

What is hiding inside your walls?

Are you concerned about the air quality in your home? Do you suspect mildew? Is there a family member who is sick or suffers from allergies and you want to know if your home is the source of the problem? Are you looking for expert opinion and advice? Indoor hygiene inspectors from Services ecoPlus will find solutions, answer all your questions and address all your concerns.

How does mildew develop?

Mildew will develop when we provide the moisture and nutrients that it needs.

A high level of humidity can be the result of water infiltration from outdoors at the floor, wall or roof level, or from a pipe leak. Occupants also produce humidity through their daily activities such as baths, laundry and cooking. Water will come in a building where the envelope is weakened or defective.

Humidity will build up inside a house when ventilation is insufficient to remove it.

Different types of mold grow on different types of materials. Some need a high level of humidity to develop. Others may appear even when no water can be seen. Humidity inside material itself can be sufficient to allow mold to grow.

Why worry about mods and mildew?

Foremost, because mold and mildew cause damage to materials. Materials that are stained or discoloured become useless over time because of molds. Paper and cardboard disintegrates after some time. Fabrics are damaged. The spread of molds could indicate humidity conditions favourable to the growth of fungi that rot wood and cause structural damage.

Mildew that develops inside a home can create health problems as it disseminates chemical substances and spores.

When exposed to mildew, the risks are higher for pregnant women, babies, older people and people with health problems, such as respiratory problems or a weakened immune system.

I suspect a problem—What can I do?

Request the professional advice of a consultant from Services ecoPlus, before starting complex or costly corrective measures. Otherwise, you may be spending a lot of money on renovations that won’t even solve your problem.

When asking a qualified investigator from Services ecoPlus de Gatineau to proceed with an investigation, you will learn if there is really a mildew problem, the cause of the problem or the humidity source, and how to remedy the situation.

Samples must be collected from different areas in your home and analyzed in a lab to identify molds and pinpoint where they come from.

Sampling

Surface sampling. It is used when enough molds are visible for the investigator to measure. The sample is then brought to the lab for microscopic identification. Once the molds have been identified, the investigator prepares a report with specific recommendations.

Dust sampling. A reproductive method of molds inside walls is to send spores (tiny particles) into the air. Spores are heavier than air and settle on flat surfaces (cabinet tops, furniture, frames, and so on.) Therefore, spores are mixed with dust usually found in a house. The dust is cultured and analyzed permitting identification and evaluation of the number of molds of each type. It is then possible to know the health index of the indoor air quality of the house, index that goes from 1 = low risk to 10 = very high risk.

Direct air sampling. In contrast to dust sampling where spores could have been lying around for weeks, direct air sampling gives a picture of present conditions. That means that any spores collected were present in the air at the time of sampling. Protocols require that at least two different samples be collected, one indoor and one outdoor, for comparison purposes.

Services ecoPlus serves Gatineau, the Outaouais and National Capital Region.

 

 

 

Air Quality

Air quality of a home is an important factor for comfort and well being. Is the air that you breathe always healthy? To have the air of your home tested, ask a professional from Services ecoPlus to perform an analysis.

If someone often experiences discomfort, such as headaches, tiredness, difficulty concentrating, colds, influenza, asthma, ear infections, pneumonia, irritation of the respiratory tract, or skin problems, it is highly possible that an indoor air quality test is required. Pregnant women, babies, older people and people with health problems such as respiratory problems or a weakened immune system are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality

If discomforts often experienced indoors disappear when leaving home for some time, air quality probably plays a role.

An air quality test (direct air test) should be requested when a building history provides grounds for concern.

A professional from Services ecoPlus collects an air sample that could hold contaminants, such as CO2, micro-organisms (bacteria, yeasts and molds), dust, radon (a radioactive heavy gas seeping from the ground), carbon monoxide (from fireplaces, oil heating systems, garages and car ports near homes) and volatile organic compounds (solvents, fumes from styrofoam, gas, perfumes, and so on.) That is what is called an “air test”.

Services ecoPlus serves Gatineau, the Outaouais and National Capital Region.

 

 

 

Radon

Radon can progress through pores in the ground and rock where houses are built. It can seep into a home through dirt floors, cracks in concrete walls and floors, sump pumps, joints, basement drains, under the furnace base and jack posts if the base is buried in the floor.

Concrete-block walls are very permeable to radon. Radon locked into well water can be released when water is used.

Radon is a radioactive gas that is colourless, odourless and tasteless that is the result of the breakdown of uranium, a natural radioactive material found in soil, rock and groundwater. Radon escapes from the ground into the air and dissipates in low concentrations that are not of concern. However, it can sometimes build up to high levels in homes. High levels of radon are considered to increase the risk of developing lung cancer. Radon can seep in a house through cracks in foundation walls and floor.

Radon concentration levels are very inconsistent in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, primarily due to the composition of rocks and soils. The only way to determine the radon level in a home is to perform an air test.

Health Canada considers that remedial measures should be undertaken in a dwelling whenever average annual radon concentration exceeds 200 Bq/m3.

Who should be concered?

Radon is present in almost all homes, although levels can vary considerably. Most homes have levels lower than the upper limit of 200 Bq/m³ accepted by the Government of Canada. However, it is not possible to pinpoint which houses will have high concentration levels. The only way to know with certainty if there is a high level of radon in your home is to test it.

Homeowners in a high-risk zone, such as the Ottawa-Gatineau region, who want to avoid risks associated to radon should call on our services and ask for a radon measurement test of their home. Health Canada recommends that measurement be taken over an extended period, such as 3 to 12 months. The best time of year to take measurements is between October and April.

Services ecoPlus serves Gatineau, the Outaouais and National Capital Region.

 

 

 

 

Method, Testing and Certificate After Decontamination

The appearance of molds in a building is ALWAYS the consequence of abnormal water activity. “Abnormal water activity” refers to a water source such as infiltrations, floods, leakage, condensation, broken pipes, indoor humidity over 60%, and sewer backup.

The contamination process begins when water comes in contact with porous wood-based materials containing cellulose or lignin, such as cardboard, composite panels that contain cellulose materials and dust,.for more than 24 to 48 hours.

Investigating Air Quality

A reliable diagnosis can be reached only if the four following elements are part of the investigation:

  1. Building history.
    It tells if there has been water damage previously and where.
  2. Symptoms of occupants.
    People exposed to molds —allergenic, pathogenic or toxigenic— may develop different conditions depending on their sensitivity level, such as irritated mucous membranes of the nose and throat, eye irritation, different respiratory problems, exacerbation of asthma, serious fatigue, and so on.
  3. 3. Rigorous inspection of the building and of the ventilation, air conditioning and heating appliances.
    The visual inspection by a professional from Services ecoPlus is essential to reach a diagnosis.
  4. Laboratory analysis.
    Air and dust sampling and analysis can always help for diagnosis and are essential when dealing with hidden molds.

Decontamination Procedure—Why?

Mycotoxins (from the greek mukos, fungi) are toxins produced by many microscopic fungi such as molds (Aspergillus sp., Stachybotrys sp., Penicillium sp., and so on).

It is those mycotoxins that give molds their allergenic, pathogenic or toxigenic characteristics. The mycotoxins do not biodegrade easily and can survive even after molds have been eradicated.

The procedure followed to decontaminate depends on the size of the mildew area and aims to protect occupants and workers by avoiding the spread of mold spores elsewhere in the building during the work.

Decontamination work must be conducted very rigorously by well-protected and qualified workers under the supervision of a building hygiene professional.

This professional will determine the decontamination procedure to perform the work and will collect control samples before, during and after the work to measure the level of success.

Services ecoPlus serves Gatineau, the Outaouais and National Capital Region.

 

 

 

Humidity and Ventilation

There is always humidity produced in a home – from10 to 50 litres (2 to 10 gallons) per day. Over a heating period of 200 days, when doors and windows are kept shut, 2,000 to 10,000 L (400 to 2,000 gal) of humidity can be confined indoors. A cord of wood, kept indoors, can release more than 270 L of moisture. Excess humidity can cause humidity problems that can, in turn, cause air quality problems.

Humidity problems have two sources: water leaks and condensation. When hot and humid air comes into contact with a cold surface, humidity in the air turns into condensation.

Water and ice on windows are examples.

Condensation can also develop in the attic and in outside walls. Over time, too much moisture in the air in your home can cause structural and property damage and health problems.

Controlling humidity in your home is the best protection against mildew problems.

Air Quality problems

The air your breathe should be clean (that is, as pollutant-free as possible). For your health and comfort, indoor air must be freshened by air from outside. Without this exchange, humidity will accumulate, molds could become a problem and the quality of the air that you breathe could degrade.

Molds growing in a house can produce spores, toxins and odours.

Synthetic fabrics, furniture, decorative accessories and household products can also release hazardous substances.

Condensation appears on cold surfaces. It is the result of excess humidity. Ventilating basements with warm air in spring or summer can cause a lot of condensation.

If you suspect a humidity problem in your home, call on the building hygene experts from Services ecoPlus.

Services ecoPlus serves Gatineau, the Outaouais and National Capital Region.

 

 

 

Laboratory Services

Services ecoPlus provides a full range of laboratory services that are certified, accredited and recognized by the Governments of Ontario and Quebec.

  • Air and dust analysis to identify and quantify molds, bacteria and allergens
  • Paint analysis to detect lead
  • Soil analysis to detect iron/red ochre
  • Biological and chemical analyses to verify hygiene at the workplace
  • Asbestos identification and characterization analyses in flocking, insulation, construction materials and vermiculite
  • Radon analysis in the air and in water