What is mold?
Mold and mildew are musty smelling fungi that thrive in moist poorly ventilated conditions. Mold is a microscopic organism that can grow almost everywhere. Mold spores are in the air and moisture is an essential ingredient for the growth of mold. Growth of mold is mostly a nuisance because they emit odors and can damage building material. Short periods of high humidity or condensation can cause mold to grow and release their health affecting spores and mycotoxins. Spores can circulate throughout the house causing mold to grow in other areas. Maintaining humidity in a proper range in combination with HEPA air cleaner can prevent spreading and exposure to mold spores.
We often see discoloration on material, surfaces, or walls in the house and wonder if it is mold. A professional mold assessment consultant can tell if it is mold, and sometimes what type. It is usually difficult to identify molds with certainty just by looking. Identification requires sampling and testing in a microbiology laboratory. However, a moldy smell is an odor that most people can recognize. Therefore, smell is usually a reliable indicator that a mold is present. Sometime you cannot see it because it is hidden behind cabinets or walls, but if you can smell it is likely to be present. Odor is especially an important clue when mold is growing in the house. An additional test for the presence of mold is to apply some dilute laundry bleach (chlorine) to the stain. If it is mold, the color will disappear.
Mold Emits Odors
Mold Grows in High Humidity
Mold Releases Mycotoxins
Mold growth is almost always due to an excess moisture problem in the area. Mold and bacteria spores are everywhere in the air. If they settle on an appropriate surface in the presence of adequate moisture, they begin to grow and spread. Solving the moisture problem will stop mold from growing.. It is not enough to stop mold from growing, but existing mold needs to be cleaned up. Dead or dry mold can emit spores or toxic particles (endotoxins) into the air when disturbed by humans or from air movement. Areas that are unused and poorly ventilated, such as attics or crawl space may have more of a tendency to grow mold. Mold spores from these areas can infiltrate into the main areas of the house and affect the air quality. Mold problems are more serious for people with allergy or sensitivity to mold. Of special concern is the slimy black mold known as Stachybotrys, which grows on cellulose material, paper, wood wallpaper and cardboard material.
Mold Health Problems
Mold becomes a health problem when it disperses throughout the air and is inhaled. Scrubbing and cleaning the mold must be done with caution as the process can release large quantities of mold spores and become risky for our health. People can usually identify mold problems by smell or visual observation. When a large area is moldy it may be necessary to have it analyzed by an environmental laboratory. If you discover there is mold in your home, you need to decrease humidity by making sure water leaks are fixed, a dehumidifier should be used to expedite air drying, and a fan used to dry surfaces. Drip pans and humidifiers must be cleaned as recommended. When carpets become wet they can cause a mold problem, which can only be resolved by removing the carpet.