Inspecting the home for Biological pollutants

Mold, Mildew, and the Effects of Indoor Air Quality

What is Mold – Mold Definition, Mold Symptoms, Mold Damage, Mold Testing, and How to Kill Mold

Molds are considered to be microorganisms and do not form a particular taxonomic or phylogenetic grouping; however, they can be found in the divisions Zygomycota and Ascomycota. In the past, the majority of molds were categorized within the Deuteromycota.

Close-up picture of biological growth found on underside of exterior staircase during a home inspection
Close-up picture of biological growth found on the underside of an exterior staircase during a home inspection

Taking Slime molds into consideration, they are not fungi, but rather are a type of single-cell, eukaryotic biological organism.

Molds trigger biodegradation of natural materials, which can be undesirable when it ends up being food spoilage or damage to property. They likewise play essential roles in biotechnology and food science in the production of different foods, beverages, antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, and enzymes.

Certain molds can trigger some illnesses of animals and people: disease may result from the allergic level of sensitivity to mold spores, from the growth of pathogenic molds within the body, or the results of ingested or breathed in toxic compounds (mycotoxins) produced by molds.

All different types of mold require moisture for development. Some even reside in all-water environments. Similar to other organisms classified as fungi, molds get their energy not through photosynthesis, but from the raw material on which they live.

Generally, molds produce hydrolytic enzymes, typically from the hyphal pointers. These enzymes break down complex biopolymers such as starch, cellulose, and lignin into more accessible compounds that can be taken in by the hypha. In this way, molds play a significant role in triggering the decomposition of organic material.

Although molds can grow on dead raw material all over in nature, their presence is visible to the unaided eye only when they form large nests. A mold colony is not composed of many individual organisms, but rather is an interconnected network of hyphae called a mycelium.

All development happens at hyphal pointers, with cytoplasm and organelles streaming forwards as the hyphae advance over or through new food sources. Nutrients are soaked up in the hyphal tip.

In buildings, homes, and other artificial environments, humidity level, and temperature are often steady and sufficiently high to cultivate the growth of mold colonies. A mold colony is commonly seen as a furry covering growing on food or other biodegradable surfaces.

When conditions do not make it possible for growth to occur, molds may remain alive in an inactive state depending upon the species, within a wide variety of temperature levels. The many various mold species differ tremendously in their tolerance to temperature level and humidity extremes.

Individual molds can endure harsh conditions such as the snow-covered soils of Antarctica, refrigeration, extremely acidic solvents, anti-bacterial soap, and even petroleum items such as jet fuel.

Some molds can even exist in a dormant state in extreme environments such as Antarctica
Frozen Tundra of Antarctica

Here’s a fun fact for all of you reading this: Alexander Fleming is the person credited for the discovery of the antibiotic, penicillin, and involved the Penicillium mold called Penicillium notatum. This discovery of his was made as the result of a complete accident.

Can Mold Make You Sick – How Much Mold Exposure is Harmful?

Molds are common, and mold spores are a typical component of household and office dust; however, when mold spores are present in significant amounts, they can provide a health hazard to human beings, potentially triggering allergies and respiratory problems.

Some molds likewise produce mycotoxins that can pose significant health risks to human beings and animals. Some studies declare that exposure to high levels of mycotoxins can cause neurological problems and, sometimes, death.

The symptoms of mold exposure can be very similar to those of the flu

Prolonged direct exposure, e.g., day-to-day house direct exposure, might be particularly damaging– research on the health impacts of mold has not been definitive.

The term “toxic mold” or “toxic black mold” describes molds that produce mycotoxins, such as Stachybotrys chartarum, and not to all molds in general.

Mold in the house can generally be discovered in wet, dark, or steamy areas, e.g., bathrooms, kitchens, chaotic storage locations, recently flooded locations, basement areas, plumbing spaces, areas with poor ventilation and outdoors in damp environments. Symptoms triggered by an allergy to mold are:

  • itchy, watery eyes;
  • problem breathing;
  • rashes;
  • a persistent cough;
  • frequent sneezing.
  • Headaches or migraines;
  • nasal obstruction;
  • fatigue;
  • sinus issues;

Mold development in buildings frequently happens in the Pacific Northwest as fungi colonize permeable structure materials, such as wood, during the rainy season (which is most of the year!).

Lots of structural items typically incorporate paper, wood items, or strong wood members such as drywall, cabinets, and insulation. Interior mold colonization can cause a range of illnesses as microscopic airborne reproductive spores are inhaled by the home or building’s residents or occupants.

Abnormally high levels of indoor airborne mold spores as compared to exterior conditions are strongly suggestive of indoor mold growth.

Mold Testing and Mold Test Kits: How to Test for Mold At Home

The determination of air quality and airborne spore counts is accomplished by way of an air sample, in which a specialized pump with a recognized circulation rate is run for a known length of time. Samples need to be drawn from the afflicted area, a control location, and the exterior to account for the ambient levels of mold spores in the air.

Mold Remediation: How to Get Rid of Mold

Various practices of controlling moisture can be followed to reduce mold concerns in structures, the most crucial of which is to keep the home or business structure clean and dry to assist in preventing the presence of mold, and any mold development.

Effectively working air conditioner, A/C units, are vital to managing levels of indoor airborne fungal spores. Air filtering minimizes the variety of spores offered for germination, particularly when a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter is utilized. Keep humidity levels as low as you can – between 30% and 50% – all day long (the EPA suggests homeowners keep indoor humidity levels listed below 60%, which truthfully, is still quite high … I use a dehumidifier to help keep humidity under 50% in my home and discover it works rather well!).

An a/c unit or dehumidifier will assist you to keep the level low. Keep in mind that humidity levels can frequently alter over a day with highs and lows in the moisture content of the air, and the air temperature. It is a good practice to check the humidity levels more than once a day.

And keep in mind, make sure to use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier throughout damp months.

Removing the moisture source is the primary step at fungal remediation. Removal of affected materials might likewise be required for remediation, as long as the materials are easily exchangeable and not part of the load-bearing structure. Professional drying of hidden wall cavities and confined areas such as cabinet toe-kick spaces may be required.

Verification of moisture content and fungal growth after completion of the mold remediation is needed for effective mold removal. Lots of contractors perform post-remediation mold verification duties themselves, but homeowners can benefit from independent confirmation.

Get rid of musty items from living areas. As soon as any mold starts to grow in carpet, insulation, ceiling tiles, drywall, or wallboard, the only method to handle the problem is by removal and replacement.

Inspect buildings for proof of water damage and noticeable mold as part of routine building upkeep, and right conditions triggering mold growth (e.g., water leaks, condensation, infiltration, or flooding) to prevent further mold growth.

Woman looking at damage after a water pipe leak

Repair any leakages in your house’s roof, walls, or pipes, so mold does not have the necessary moisture to grow. Think about not using carpet in spaces or locations like restrooms or basements that might have a lot of moisture.

Mildew Vs Mold – is There a Difference?

Mildew and mold are both fungi. However, mildew is not as intrusive or troublesome as other kinds of mold. Generally found in wet areas, mildew looks grayish-white and may turn brown. It’s flat and grainy, and it’s a simpler fungus to clean because it lives only on the surface of a product (such as bathroom tile) rather than damaging materials by sending hypha into them.

If you see powdery white specks gathering in the corner of a shower, you should have the ability to clean it thoroughly with a cleansing solution like bleach or vinegar.

The bathroom is notorious for mildew development, especially the shower

If you are attempting to sanitize an affected area and want to know how to clean mold, mix a cup of regular bleach with a gallon of water and use this solution to scrub down the mold and affected surfaces (NEVER COMBINE BLEACH & AMMONIA, IT ESSENTIALLY CREATES THE HIGHLY TOXIC CHLORINE GAS, WHICH HAS BEEN EFFECTIVELY USED AS A TOOL OF WAR FOR MANY YEARS.).

Mildew can trigger similar allergic reactions to that of mold. However, since it’s easier to get rid of and less invasive, it’s less of a threat. Cleaning any mildew with a little bleach can stop it dead in its track.

Is Mold Dangerous? Allergy to Mold and Mold Exposure Symptoms

The initial warning signs of a mold outbreak are typically hard to identify, which is why it can sneak up on a homeowner. The very first thing you may come to notice is that mold has a foul odor. If you discover a musty, pungent smell, and observe the other signs, such as increased moisture/humidity and warmth, as being present, the possibilities are excellent that mold is concealed somewhere close by.

Small mold issues in the bathroom can be managed with a bit of elbow grease and a little bleach, but for larger, more invasive mold problems, you should look for licensed or professional assistance. If you’re worried that the mold issue is too huge for you to handle, or if there’s a possibility more mold might be living in other places in your home, don’t think twice to call a mold remediation professional.

While a few specific molds may be considered toxic, all molds should be eliminated from the house as quickly as possible to prevent future growth.

The reality is – be it black or green the color of mold to the naked eye can not tell you anything about whether it’s toxic or not. With over 100,000 species, mold can be found in about any size, shape, and color you can think about, making it virtually impossible to tell what type of mold you have without lab analysis screening or mold testing by a qualified mold assessment professional.

Media reports of Black Mold often refer to molds that can produce toxic substances (specifically mycotoxins), such as groups of molds known as Stachybotrys. Mycotoxins will not continuously be produced when these types of mold exist. Essentially, the existence of mold does not necessarily mean mycotoxins are present. The conditions required for mycotoxins to be created are not entirely understood at this time.

A study by Michigan State discovered that one strain of mold, Stachybotrys chartarum, can trigger a myriad of breathing, immunologic, and neurologic symptoms, though the connection is not entirely understood. And again, there are over 100,000 mold types, making it not likely what’s in your house is Stachybotrys chartarum.

Even more, mycotoxins can be produced by other types of molds besides Stachybotrys, and these molds are not always black. It is crucial not merely to clean the surface that the mold is growing on, but to discover and fix the source of the moisture which allowed the mold to grow.

There is ample evidence in support of an association between damp areas, indoor mold growth and proliferation, and respiratory health problems. Therefore, whether the exact cause is mold or an accompanying indoor impurity, hanging out where it is damp enough to support the development and growth of mold is a prospective cause of ill health.

Whether or not mold is seen, finding and repairing the sources of excess moisture is necessary for human health and to keep the structure from being additional harmed.

What is Toxic Mold Syndrome?

“Toxic mold syndrome” is a legal construct, instead of a medical diagnosis, involving unidentified disease processes, a constellation of different signs, and reports of health problems uncorroborated by a physical exam of the clients or an expert examination of their environments.

Although “black mold” or “hazardous mold” has been identified in litigation as a reason for human illness, there is no established cluster of signs or physical findings associated with this alleged illness. There are neither diagnostic requirements nor any valid scientific publications developing Stachybotrys or other molds as a cause of these diverse symptoms.

What is Sick Building Syndrome?

The EPA specifies “sick building syndrome” as “circumstances in which structure occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that seem connected to time spent in a building, but no particular illness or cause can be identified.” Those results might include headache, tiredness, and inflammation of skin, eyes, or throat, among others.

These signs are often linked to indoor air quality problems when a structure is insufficiently ventilated or maintained.

Mold, Mildew, and the Effects of Indoor Air Quality -