What is Mold?
Mold is made up of tiny, microscopic organisms that are everywhere–indoors and outdoors. Mold travels through mold spores, which are tiny, light, and move easily through the air by means of airflow. Indoors, mold spores grow just about anywhere, including your shower tiles, carpeting, air-conditioning ducts, on moist walls, etc.
When mold grows on surfaces it can range in color from green, brown, and black to white and orange. And spores produced by mold can cause allergy problems in people.
Mold grows when it has a source of moisture, a place to grow, and a food source, including wood, paper, leaves, or dirt.
Types of Mold
Allergenic Molds:In low amounts these are not usually dangerous, but, they can exacerbate symptoms of those with mold allergies or asthma, causing a runny nose and wheezing. Much of this mold’s population can be eliminated with gloves and a disposable respirator that filters mold spores.
Mycotoxic Molds:These molds are very toxic and can cause serious health problems in both people and animals. Health effects can include short-term irritation, immunosuppression, cancer, and even death. You should NOT attempt to remove or eliminate this type of mold yourself. Instead, contact mold professionals–like Water Tight Basement Waterproofing–for guidance.
Pathogenic Molds:Another potentially toxic form of mold that can severely affect the health of people with suppressed immune systems, have HIV or AIDs, are taking chemotherapy drugs, or are suffering from autoimmunity disorders. Like Mycotoxic mold, this mold should only be removed by a mold professional.
Hyphae & Hyphal Elements:These are single, unidentifiable fragments of mold that may not be traceable to a specific mold species. These fragments still can cause allergic reactions in some people and point previous mold growth or a current mold problem.
Where Can I Find Mold?
You can find mold anywhere that you go whether you are at homes, at an office or other building, and even outside. If there is an excess of moisture or humidity, this is ideal place for mold spores to grow quickly. The major cause of mold growth in homes and offices is indoor moisture caused by humidifiers, damp basements or crawl spaces, flooding, leaky roofs, plumbing leaks, cooking steam, clothes dryers with indoor vents, house plants, shower/bath steam and leaks, wet clothes, pets, sweaty sneakers indoors, bathroom towels, dirty HVAC systems, and spilled liquids on carpets and area rugs.
What Kinds of Effects Does Mold Have on Me and My Family?
Mold Exposure is not healthy for anyone. When inhaled even small amounts of toxic mold can cause nasal and sinus congestion, aggravate respiratory problems, eye and nasal irritation, body aches and pains and sometimes even fever or death. Certain population groups have a higher risk for adverse health problems include infants and children, women who are expecting a child, the elderly, those who are immune compromised, and those with asthma or other respiratory conditions.
Why Does Mold Grow So Easily Indoors?
Mold grows easily in high-moisture areas and with nutrients that are in most households, including dust, wood, paper, dirt, adhesives, paint, floors, carpets, and more.
Why Do I Need to Test for Mold?
A small amount mold is present in most homes, but some homes are more conducive to mold growth. Once mold or mildew is present in the home more mold will surely grow. It is easily spread throughout everyday activities and can also hitchhike on us and come into our homes from outdoors and other buildings. It is a good practice to monitor for mold growth as part of the maintenance procedures for your home. It is only through inspection and testing can it be determined if molds are present and if the subject property is showing signs of mold and mildew friendliness.
Should I Have My House Inspected for Mold?
Yes. Poor indoor air quality caused by mold can increase the chance of allergies and illness. Mold, mildew, staining, and decay can also cause damage to drywall and wood-frame buildings. With proper routine inspection and testing this type of damage is completely preventable.
Black Mold, the Most Common and Most Dangerous Mold
Stachybotrys Chartarum, called Black Mold, is a greenish-black toxic fungus with about 15 species that grows well in materials like dry wall, wet leaves, straw, hay, wallpaper, carpeting, insulation, and ceiling tiles. It's wet and a bit slimy when you touch it (if it isn't dried out). It grows in areas with 40-60% relative humidity. Black Mold does not grow on vinyl, plastic, or ceramic tile. Black mold is commonly found in basements.
Can I detect mold myself? How do I know if a house I am looking to purchase has mold?
- Toxic molds such as Stachybotrys are not easily detectable using just visual inspection. All black mold isn't necessarily toxic. Stachybotrys can only be identified by sending a sample to an accredited laboratory. Remember that mold becomes harmful when a person breathes in the dry spores. This, however, does not mean that wet mold doesn't mean that you still don't carry significant risk: the wet mold can become dry and then begin circulating in the air.
- While you may be able to see black mold in an area affected by water damage, there may also be mold hiding behind dry walls and places where water has damaged less visible areas of your home.
- Home inspectors that evaluate a home may find areas with water damage but not have any idea that water-damaged environments harbor toxic mold.
- If a home's previous owners have experienced or know of any past water damage, leaks of flooding, they may have included this information in the homeowner's disclosure documents.
- Review historical records for any mention of flooding around the house being sold.
- If the homeowner's inspection form doesn't have a section about water damage, mold, or mildew, ask for one to be added on.
Want to know more about mold? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has additional information about mold and your health, click here for more info.