Mold - The New Health Hazard

Mold - The New Health Hazard

Molds are a living organism, microscopic in size and grow similar to plants feeding on decaying or dead organic materials. Molds are present on most surfaces around us and also serve helpful purposes, but can be harmful if allowed to grow out of control. Molds produce billions of spores, their version of seeds, which are carried on air currents, enabling them to grow in other locations and reproduce. These spores give each type of mold its distinct color and appearance. About 1,000,000,000 (1 billion) spores can fit comfortably into one square inch.


Molds are organized into three groups according to human responses:
Allergenic, Pathogenic and Toxigenic.

Allergenic Mold
Allergenic molds do not usually produce life-threatening health effects and are most likely to affect those who are already allergic or asthmatic. The human system responses to allergenic molds tend to be relatively mild, depending on individual sensitivities, typically producing scratchy throats, eye and nose irritations and rashes.

Pathogenic Mold
Pathogenic molds usually produce some type of infection. They can cause serious health effects in persons with suppressed immune systems. Healthy people can usually resist infection by these organisms regardless of dose. In some cases, high exposure may cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis (an acute response to exposure to an organism).

Toxigenic Mold
Mycotoxins can cause serious health effects in almost anybody. These agents have toxic effects ranging from short-term irritation to immunosuppression and possibly cancer. Therefore, when toxigenic molds are found, further evaluation and remediation are highly recommended. When mold is detected, the cause of the problem needs to be corrected and a professional sanitizing or remediation process is also recommended to ensure the mold problem has been properly corrected.

What does mold need to grow?

A. Food: Mold needs an organic source of food, such as: wood, fabric, leather, gypsum, fireboard, drywall, stucco, insulation material, ceiling tiles, paint textiles, dirt, dust, paper adhesives.

B. Water: Mold needs the correct amount of surface moisture, and sustained relative humidity of 50% to 80%, depending on the specific type of mold.

Why does mold appear to grow on non-organic surfaces?

Mold found on these surfaces is actually living off organic debris such as dust, oil films, dirt, skin cells, etc deposited on the surface.

When does mold grow indoors?

Mold growth can occur indoors whenever excess moisture accumulates and is not dried within 24 to 48 hours. Extensive mold growth is likely following a major water leak, such as a burst pipe, sewer backflow, tub overflow, or after putting out a fire. However, minor events can also cause significant mold growth if not properly addressed.

What are the potential sources in my home?

Leaking faucets or water valves, Inadequately sealed toilet, Insufficient caulking around tub and shower, Storage of garbage under the sink, Steam from cooking and dishwasher, Leaking water valves or lines under sink or water conditioning units, Leaking air conditioning condensate lines, Inadequate bathroom ventilation, Bathroom exhaust fan venting into attic space, Carpeted bathrooms, Potted plants, especially when in wicker baskets, Accumulation of dirt and dust on window ledges and panes, Wet clothes drying indoors, Clothes dryer vented indoors, Dirty (HVAC) heating and air-conditioning ducts, Spilled liquids on carpeted surfaces, Poor carpet cleaning job (excess moisture left behind), Condensation in attic, Dampness in closets, especially on the ground floor next to exterior walls, or adjacent to bathrooms, High humidity levels in any room.

“While bleach is often recommended for remediation of surface mold, recent university research study results illustrate that the treatment does not eliminate the surface microflora,” is the conclusion of the Oregon State University study of the effects of chlorine bleach on mold growth on wood and other porous materials. This research study was conducted by Professor Jeffrey Morrell, Dept. of Science, Oregon State University, as assisted by Adam Taylor-graduate research assistant and Camille Fretag- Senior Research Associate. To kill mold effectively on porous surfaces like building materials, carpeting, upholstery, etc., you must use an EPA-registered fungicide. Bleach as a mold disinfectant is best used in the kitchen and bathroom for countertops, tubs, shower glass and other hard non-porous surfaces.

Can I Do My Own Testing?
Yes you can do your own testing. Many hardware stores carry mold test kits you can buy for around $10 to $20. These kits are usually Petra dishes that you open and set up where you suspect mold. The problem is they don’t really tell you anything. After you have followed the directions, you return in a couple of days and look at the dish. Well 99.999% of the time when you inspect the dish you will see mold growing in the dish. Okay so you have a mold problem. Well that is not really true. It is necessary to understand that all buildings have some levels of mold in them. This is natural. The problem with mold comes into play usually when either light, moderate, high (heavy) or elevated mold spore counts are detected in the house, unanswered health problems exist, water damage is seen, a musty odor is noticed, deterioration of building materials is detected or apparent microbial is visual. Again, the problem with these do-it-yourself kits is that they don’t really tell you anything. You will be confused more than ever and the only person you have to talk to and ask questions is the box. It is always recommended to use a professional who not only knows what they are doing but also know what type of mold test is really needed and can professionally answer any questions you will have about the results from your tests. The Indoor Environmental Community in this country recommends any of the following test samplings depending on your conditions: Air Sampling, Bulk Sampling, Swab Testing, Tape Lift Sampling, Ermie Sampling and Armie Sampling. Your inspector / tester will be able to determine which one is best for you and recommend how many samples need to be taken. So, to answer your question, can you do it yourself?....Sure you can.... But, do you really know what your doing? It is your health that''s really at risk.

“Is It Growing Growing in Your House?”