These are some of the most frequently asked question about mold.
WHAT IS MOLD?
Mold is a generic name for over 100,000 different kinds of fungus. Essentially, molds are living organisms that make up a large portion of the fungi kingdom. Once thought to be part of the plant kingdom, molds make spores instead of seeds which float in the air like pollen. Spores are regenerative cells surrounded by a very tough coating that can survive detergents, chemicals, bleach and extreme temperatures.
Mold spores are microscopic in size, typically requiring 600X magnification to identify. It is has been said that 250,000 mold spores can fit on the head of a pin. A visible patch of mold the size of a quarter can represent billions of spores.
Molds reproduce by releasing spores. When mold spores colonize (settle) on a surface they can grow and spread rapidly, giving off a variety of odors and exhibiting hundreds of different colors and textures.
ISN'T MOLD EVERYWHERE?
Mold is part of the natural environment and is virtually everywhere, all the time, indoors and out. It would be a grievous mistake, however, to assume that just because mold is everywhere, it's not a problem.
Outdoors, mold plays an important role in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees. Indoors, mold can be a significant problem, destroying property and posing a number of serious health risks
HOW DOES MOLD BECOME A PROBLEM?
Since mold spores are everywhere all the time, we are always exposed to mold. At any given time, outdoor air will have as many as 100 different types of mold spores floating about, along with a number of other airborne pollutants. Because mold spores are ever-present in the air, they drift freely in and out of buildings through doors, windows, attic vents, HVAC systems, etc. On any given day, airborne mold spore levels indoors should always be about the same as outdoors, unless mold is originating indoors.
Increased spore amounts:
When airborne mold spores find something damp to stick to, they colonize (grow) and release new spores. Mold growing outdoors is seldom ever a health risk. But when mold grows indoors, spore levels can reach concentrations significantly higher than outdoors and cause a number of adverse reactions in people and animals, including rashes and itching skin, eye - nose and throat irritations, chronic headaches, respiratory infections, nausea, and trigger asthma attacks.
Increased spore types:
In addition to increasing the amount of spores indoors, mold growing indoors on wet construction materials tend to produce different types of spores that are not found outdoors.
For example, it is rare to find Stachybotrys outdoors. However, Stachybrotrys is commonly found growing indoors on drywall and carpet after a flood or other water intrusion has occurred. Stachybrotrys is often referred to as "black mold" and can be toxigenic. Exposure to high concentrations of toxigenic mold spores inside a building can present a wide range of very serious health risks to the occupants.
While you cannot control Mother Nature, you can certainly limit the potential for indoor mold growth by limiting moisture sources and responding rapidly to every water intrusion issue. The biggest mistake people make is ignoring minor issues until they become major problems. Early detection and assessment can minimize the risk of exposure to toxic molds and save thousands of dollars in repair costs.
IS ALL MOLD BAD?
To answer that question you must first understand that mold has two faces;
There's the face you can visually see (mold growing on a surface), which can cause property damage.
Then there's the face you don't see (mold floating in the air), which can cause people damage.
In both cases, the level of damage is directly related to the level of infestation.
Surface mold has the potential to cause significant property damage.
Molds spores secrete digestive enzymes that decompose the surfaces they live on. For that reason, all mold is bad. The longer mold is allowed to infest any surface, the more damage it can cause. That is why hidden mold is such a tremendous threat. It's potential to cause damage is devastating because a great deal of time can pass before it is detected.
The visual appearance of mold on construction materials and personal contents indoors is an obvious indication of a mold problem. The pungent mildew or musty odor of mold indoors is another obvious indicator, even when mold is not visibly present. If you suspect you have a mold problem in your home or office, immediate steps should be taken to identify and correct the cause. The longer mold is allowed to grow, the more damage it will cause to your property and the more it will cost to remediate. Prompt action can mean the difference between a few hundred dollars in repairs or several thousands of dollars.Considering the potential mold has to damage and depreciated the value of property, all molds have the potential to be bad.
Airborne mold has the potential to cause adverse health reactions.
Since airborne mold spores are everywhere all the time, indoors and out, we are always exposed to mold at some level. In an open outdoor environment we are seldom exposed to any significant levels of spores because the air is continually moving. But indoors, where ventilation is restricted and air is often recycled through heaters and air conditioners, the exact same molds that don't bother anyone outdoors can cause severe reactions indoors, especially when levels are exceedingly higher than outside.
When mold is growing indoors, the amount of mold in the air can be significantly higher than outdoors. Exposure to high concentrations of molds in enclosed spaces such as residential homes, commercial buildings, schools, automobiles, airplanes, etc., can trigger asthma attacks, cause respiratory infections, bronchial polyps, and a number of other reactions.
Exposure to extremely high concentrations of airborne mold over extended periods of time can over-come the lungs capacity to filter out spores. Once mold enters the bloodstream the severity of symptoms and reactions increase exponentially.
Considering the potential health risks of airborne mold spores indoors, all molds have the potential to be bad
SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED ABOUT MOLD?
Absolutely! Eventually, mold destroys whatever it grows on. It can ruin furnishings, destroy cabinets and cause serious damage to the structural elements in your property. It can trigger asthma attacks in people with asthma and give asthma to people who don't have it. Asthma kills 5,000 people every year in the U.S. alone and most of them are children. Of course you should be concerned about mold.
The best time to respond to mold is before it gets to do it's worst damage. Eliminating leaks and moisture can slow the spread of mold, but a professional inspection by a qualified specialist and testing in accordance with industry standard protocols is the only way to properly identify the problem and create an appropriate action plan.
Whether you had your property inspected for mold before you recently moved in, or had a mold inspection a year ago, you should be aware that mold can begin growing anytime, anywhere, no matter how clean you keep your casa.
If you haven't had a mold inspection within the past 18 months, now might be the perfect time have a professional mold inspection - even if there are no visible signs of mold infestations. A professional certified mold inspector can help you identify potential mold problems and save thousands of dollars repairs costs that occur when indoor mold is ignored or goes undetected.
Some people think mold only grows in dirty, unkempt buildings. Not so. Though poor household hygiene certainly contributes to mold problems, mold can flourish in sparkling clean environments as well.
Some people mistakenly think that properties near the beach naturally have mold and that properties in dry desert climates don't. Not so. The vast majority of indoor mold problems have nothing to do with climate conditions. There are just as many mold problems in the desert as there are at the beach, and just as many mold-free properties at the beach as there are in the desert
For futher information about mold and other harmful particulates.
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