Humid Vancouver Island is ideal for mold to grow

Humid Vancouver Island is ideal for mold to grow

Sooke resident frustrated with mold problem

Common household mold can have devastating effects on a person’s wellbeing, say officials

When Sooke resident Meg Anderson moved to a house in Ladysmith a few years ago, she noticed she was getting a cough, her chest felt heavy and she couldn’t sleep.

A couple of trips to the doctor revealed she had asthma, and that her lungs were attacked by an allergy. Just before she decided to move out, she discovered her house’s foundation was leaking moisture into the structure, allowing mold to grow and thrive.

“I didn’t see it because it was behind the bed, dressers and places that you don’t always move around. It was in the drywall, and it was black,” she said.

She later moved to Sooke, but Anderson’s ordeal with mold is far from over.

“I love the air here [in Sooke] but my asthma has gotten worse,” she said, adding that her apartment, while better for her allergies, isn’t mold-free, either.

“It’s a real dilemma for me, because I’m on a disability pension and I can’t even afford to pay rent or get the medication I need,” Anderson said.

Turns out, mold likes the Island and Lower Mainland, thanks to the humid, temperate rainforest setting, said Ryan Ractliffe, owner of Axiom Mould Experts, a remediation company that specializes in mold.

“We have high moisture conditions, whether it be from rain or high humidity, so that, in combination with the building materials use, will often cause mold to grow,” Ractliffe said, adding high humidity, or water intrusion, notably near washing machines, dishwashers, sinks, plumbing, as well as leaky windows contribute to mold.

Ractliffe pointed out the drywall contents makes a big difference too, such as oriented strand board, which he calls one of “the worst-offended materials” as it is porous and full of organic matter.

“Mold’s role is to break down organic matter, so they can return to the soil and have other organisms use them, but they can’t tell the difference between a tree outside and our home,” he said.

Most concerning, is stachybotrys, (also known as toxic black mold) due to its highly toxigenic nature, though, despite common belief, Ractliffe said the colour of mold is not an indicator to its toxicity.

“There are some white molds that are very toxic, and there are some black molds that are quite allergenic or benign,” he said. “Understanding the difference between the two becomes quite important to how we treat these problems.”

Unlike stachybotrys, which takes a longer time to grow, penicillium aspergillus (also common in homes) grows within 24 to 48 hours of damp conditions. Common symptoms for mold exposure are usually headaches, sore throat, tightness in the chest, eye irritation, among others.

“They’re [mold] releasing these enzymes in the air as part of their digestive process, and a defense against bacteria, their natural, mortal enemy. We just get caught in the crossfire of it,” he said.

The elderly, the very young and those with existing lung diseases and compromised immune systems are most at risk to mold effects, noted Chris Carlston, a physician and associate professor at the University of British Columbia.

“Anyone who has a history of asthma, that even on itself puts them in a special category of concern,” he said, adding healthy adults with good immune systems should be OK.

 

“They may be irritating, they may be annoying, they may even make you feel nasty, but it’s not a disease. If you are exposed to mold every day, it’s chronic but it doesn’t actually cause a chronic medical

condition.”

 

A lot of it comes down to prevention, Ractliffe said, such as maintaining a dust-free environment and a dehumidifier to keep the humidity level around 50 per cent or lower.

“Keep the air as dry as possible, that way if there are any spills, or if there’s any moisture escaping, that things can dry up quickly,” he said. “Another thing is to resolve any flooding and seepage issues into the house, especially in the basement.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ownership of SISȻENEM — also known as Halibut Island located east off Sidney Island — has transferred to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council after The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC) had purchased the island for $1.55 million. (The Land Conservancy/Submitted)
SISȻENEM (Halibut Island) transfers to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council under historic agreement

The Land Conservancy purchased the 9.67-acre island for $1.55 million with help from unnamed donor

Landis Carmichael is the Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as the Emergency Services Award winner. (Photo courtesy Landis Carmichael)
29-year-old firefighter has spent almost half his life with Langford department

Landis Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Emergency Services Award

Shannon Davis, manager at Sidney’s Star Cinema, holds up the largest available bag of popcorn available for sale at the theatre. It also also sells four smaller sizes in generating revenue following its closure last fall because of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney theatre fills bottom line with popcorn sales

Theatre applying to return to doing our household-only private rentals

Karen DeCicco and Darren Russell have been named principals of the Sooke School District’s two newest schools, both under construction in Langford. DeCicco will lead Pexsisen Elementary while Russell will be at Centre Mountain Lellum Middle School, both starting in spring of 2022. (Courtesy Sooke School District)
Principals named for new Langford schools set to open in 2022

Sooke School District tabs veteran educators with strong track records on the West Shore

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. (Black Press Media files)
Possible miscarriage of justice in B.C. woman’s conviction in toddler drowning: prosecutor

Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge

A kid in elementary school wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Metro Creative)
Union asks why an elementary school mask rule wouldn’t work in B.C. if it does elsewhere

B.C. education minister announced expansion of mask-wearing rules in middle, high school but not elementary students

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo school district chosen as Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Ella Donovan with mom Tina outside Fuller Lake Arena before heading onto the ice for practice. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Young Ladysmith skater watches and waits in battle against cancer

Ella Donovan’s tumour began a tumultuous time, but community support eased the burden

Most Read