What is Mould?
Moulds are microscopic organisms, or fungi, found virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Although they are part of the natural environment, moulds are undesirable when they grow where we don’t want them, such as in homes. They come into the home in many ways – through open windows or doors, on clothing, pets, food or furniture. The problems start when mould grows inside the home. Mould has the potential to cause adverse health affects, as well as property damage.
Discoloration is a sign of mould. However, all discoloration is not due to mould. Carpeting near baseboards, for example, can be stained by outdoor pollution entering the home. Moulds vary in colour. If mould is suspected, dab a drop of household bleach on the spot. If the stain loses its colour or disappears, it may be mould. If there is no change, it probably isn’t mould. Sometimes moulds are hidden and cannot be seen but can leave a musty or earthy smell when present. But a smell may not be present for all moulds. Even if a smell is not evident, wet spots, dampness or water leaks are indications of moisture problems and mould may follow.
Causes of indoor mould growth
High moisture is the major contributor to indoor mould growth. The nutrients mould needs to thrive can be found in a number of the basic elements in a home. The actual germination of mould is caused by a number of factors, including:
- Water source contamination
- Time remaining wet
It is still not clear to what extent mould can pose a health concern. Severe reactions may occur among those exposed to large amounts and no one disputes the fact that mould exposure may produce allergic responses in certain individuals such as wheezing, eye irritations and stuffiness. Illnesses can result from both high level, short term exposures and lower level, long-term exposures. The most common symptoms reported from exposure to mould in indoor environments are runny nose, eye irritation, cough, congestion, aggravation of asthma, headache, and fatigue.
Mould issues for Realtors
Although mould is a constant presence in any indoor environment, homeowners and tenants across the country are paying more attention to any impact mould may have. The extreme cases involve major renovations where mould has weakened or damaged the structure of a home or condominium. As a result, REALTOR liability is a concern. In addition, some insurance companies are taking steps to limit coverage for mould damage.
Currently there are no established standards for acceptable levels of indoor mould. Despite the lack of standards, mould is the latest environmental health issue generating public attention. REALTORS are potentially liable for failure to disclose an environmental hazard.
As the issue of mould emerges in Canada, REALTORS should be as well informed as possible about the issues. The best advice to a seller is to disclose any water problems or presence of mould up front. The best advice to buyers is “beware.”
For any inquiries, contact Terra Firma Real Estate at 613-721-7434
Source: A Real Estate Guide to Mould, The Canadian Real Estate Association