Water Damage Has a True Cost: Your Health

Water Damage Has a True Cost: Your Health

Every type of water damage can create hazards to your health. Here’s why when it’s spotted you need to fix water damage right away. Read on for more.
Toronto homeowners: have you recently experienced a flood, a roof leak, or a dripping pipe under the sink?

Are you noticing suspicious stains on the ceiling or walls, peeling tile, or a damp smell that just won’t go away? Your home might be suffering from water damage!

Your home might be suffering from water damage!

And how about you? Are you sneezing and coughing, more tired than usual, or dealing with joint pain and headaches? Your health might also be suffering due to water damage in your home.

Read on to learn more about the serious health hazards of living in a water-damaged home and what action you can take to fix it.

All types of water damage can be dangerous

Some types of water are easier to clean up, but any water damage holds the potential to attract mould, pests, and illness. Here is a quick overview of the different kinds of water that can damage your home.

Clean water

Category 1 or “clean water” is water that is generally free of germs that can harm you if ingested. Water that flows to appliances such as faucets, dishwashers and refrigerators are all clean water.

When caught and remedied right away, clean water leaks tend to do the least damage. Clean water leaks should, however, be fixed as quickly as possible, as mould can begin to grow in the affected area in as little as 24-48 hours.

Clean water leaks should, however, be fixed as quickly as possible, as mould can begin to grow in the affected area in as little as 24-48 hours.

Gray water

Category 2 or “gray water” is water that does have the potential to make you sick. Gray water can be found in toilets and sump pumps. Gray water requires disinfection of the affected area in addition to normal repairs.

Black water

Category 3, or “black water” is the most hazardous. Black water is water that is highly likely to cause illness. Black water can contain sewage, chemicals, and dangerous microorganisms. Flood water falls under this category.

It is imperative that black water is cleaned up properly and as soon as possible. Use of a water damage restoration company is a must.

If you are concerned about any type of water damage in your home here in Toronto, water damage experts from Hero Response are available to come out and assess the situation.

What are the health hazards of water damage?


Moulds are types of fungi that grow in humid environments. Exposure to mould can be hazardous to your health.

As mould grows, it releases “spores” into the air. Regularly breathing in these spores can make people and pets sick.

Many people are allergic to mould and will suffer unpleasant symptoms if exposed to it, such as: coughing, sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, watery eyes, skin rashes, headaches, fatigue, general body aches, and irritation of the respiratory system.

Other conditions such as asthma or allergic rhinitis (hay fever), can be aggravated by exposure to mould.

Getting rid of mould can be a big (and unpleasant) job. It is highly recommended that you hire an IICRC certified mould remediation company to ensure all of the mould is removed safely.

Black mould

Stachybotrys, frequently referred to as “toxic mould” or “black mould,” is a particularly dangerous mould to have in your home. Stachybotrys produces compounds called mycotoxins that can wreak havoc on the health of humans and pets.

Black mould exposure can lead to a host of unpleasant side effects. Often, people don’t even realize that mould is the culprit.

Symptoms of black mould exposure can include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Sinus problems and runny nose
  • Respiratory problems including bleeding in the lungs or a burning sensation
  • Skin rashes
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nosebleeds
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reproductive problems
  • Blood clotting problems
  • Suppressed immune system

Infants, children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems may be even more susceptible to the effects of black mould.

Studies suggest that exposure to black mould spores can damage the DNA of the developing lungs of infants. Black mould has also been linked to development of a condition called pulmonary hemosiderosis. Pulmonary hemosiderosis is characterized by bleeding in the lungs and is accompanied by anemia, congestion, and chronic cough.

Fungal infection (mycosis) may also occur in a body exposed to mould. The airborne spores take up residence inside the body when inhaled or on the skin and multiply.

Sick Building Syndrome

If water damage is allowed to linger, mould will continue to multiply and further contaminate the air inside a building. This can lead to symptoms of “sick building syndrome” in your home.

Sick building syndrome (or SBS) is often used to describe well-sealed buildings with air quality so poor that its inhabitants become ill from exposure. The term is frequently used to describe office buildings, and encompasses air quality issues stemming from chemicals in paint to carbon monoxide.

However, mould alone can be a potent culprit in SBS and could be making the air in your own home a source of illness. If a building is “sick” you’ll generally feel the effects (mental fog, headache, nausea, congestion, skin rash, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat) within an hour or two of entering and they will ease up an hour or two after you’ve left.

Dust mites

Dust mites are tiny bugs that live in warm, humid environments. They feed on minuscule flakes of human skin. Skin flakes end up on virtually everything we touch, so dust mites have a constant food source if they take up residence in your home.

Some individuals are allergic to a protein in dust mite droppings. Allergy symptoms can range from severe to mild and can include itching, wheezing, sneezing, coughing, rashes, or diarrhea. Dust mite droppings can also aggravate symptoms of those suffering from asthma.

Water damage in your home can make your home attractive to dust mites. In a humid enough environment, they can survive all year long. However, if the water damage is properly repaired, dust mites may soon find your home too dry to be hospitable and die off.


Not unlike dust mites, cockroaches also love warm, moist environments with access to food. A water-damaged house could be the perfect place for cockroaches to take up residence.

Many people are allergic to cockroaches. If the dust in your home is contaminated with cockroach droppings and body parts this can lead to symptoms like a runny nose, coughing and sneezing and skin rash.

Cockroaches often carry illness-causing bacteria, including salmonella. Definitely not guests you want in your home!

What can I do to protect myself?

Any time you experience a water leak, even a small one, it’s a good idea to consult with a water damage expert. All it takes is one patch of improperly remedied water damage to promote the growth of mould or start attracting pests.

If you suspect water damage may already be present in your home, contact us right away. The longer water damage is allowed to linger, the more harm it may be doing to your home and health.

Here at Hero Response, we are Toronto’s water damage experts. We go beyond just fixing the leak. We work with you every step of the way to fix water damage problems and prevent lasting damage to your home – and your health!