Neither animal or plant, molds are microscopic organisms that produce enzymes to digest organic matter and spores to reproduce. These organisms are part of the fungi kingdom, a realm shared with mushrooms, yeast, and mildews. In nature, mold plays a key role in the decomposition of leaves, wood, and other plant debris. Without mold, we would find ourselves wading neck-deep in dead plant matter. And we wouldn’t have great foods and medicines, such as cheese and penicillin. However, problems arise when mold starts digesting organic materials we don’t want them to, like our homes and buildings.
Mold spores are always being blown around in the air. Once mold spores settle in your building, they must have moisture to begin growing and digesting whatever they are growing on. There are molds that can grow on wood, ceiling tiles, wallpaper, paints, carpet, sheetrock, and insulation. When excess moisture or water builds up in your building from say, a leaky roof, high humidity, or flooding, conditions are often ideal for molds. Longstanding moisture or high humidity conditions and mold growth go together. Realistically, there is no way to rid all mold and mold spores from your building; the way to control mold growth is to control moisture. Molds must have moisture to grow.
Mold spores are constantly released into the air. You then can be exposed to the spores through the air you breathe. Also, if you directly handle moldy materials, you can be exposed to mold and mold spores through contact with your skin. Eating moldy foods or hand-to-mouth contact after handling moldy materials is yet another way you may be exposed. There should be no mold in habitable buildings.
Generally, the majority of common molds are not a concern to someone who is healthy. However if you have allergies or asthma, you may be sensitive to molds. You may experience skin rash, running nose, eye irritation, cough, congestion, and aggravation of asthma. Also children, and those with an immune suppression or underlying lung disease, may be at increased risk for infections from molds.
When necessary, some resourceful molds produce toxins in defense against other molds and bacteria called mycotoxins. Depending on exposure level, these mycotoxins may cause toxic effects in people, also. Fatigue, nausea, headaches, and respiratory and eye irritation are some symptoms that may be experienced from exposure to mycotoxins.
Molds are organized into three groups according to human responses: Allergenic, Pathogenic and Toxigenic.
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. Those exposed to high levels can develop allergies.
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).
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 is recommended. The toxins on the spores and other fragments are why mold must be removed and not treated with additional man mad toxins.
If you or your family members have health problems that you suspect are caused by exposure to mold, you should consult with your physician.
You may have seen white thread-like growths or clusters of small black specks along your damp bathroom or basement walls, or smelled a “musty” odor. Seeing and smelling mold is a good indication that you have a mold problem. However, you cannot always rely upon your senses to locate molds. Hidden mold can be growing behind wall coverings or ceiling tiles.
Common places to find mold are in areas where water has damaged building materials and furnishings perhaps from flooding, plumbing leaks, or high humidity. Mold can also be found growing along walls where warm moist air condenses on cooler wall surfaces, such as inside cold exterior walls, behind dressers, headboards, and in closets where articles are stored against walls. Rooms with both high water usage and humidity, such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and basements are often havens for mold. If you notice mold or know of water damaged areas in your home, it is time to take action to control its growth.
Disturbing mold can cause the release of millions of spores ranging in size from one to twenty microns. These very small particles can stay airborne and and take a long time to settle. Never vacuum a mold problem with a regular household vacuum as the spores may pass right through the vacuum.
It is critical to dehumidify withing the first 24-48 hours, because of molds rapid growth rate. With our dry out trailer producing low humidity 160° heated air exchanging an entire household and our Dry-Ice blasting we can remedy extreme water damage as efficiently as possible.
Contact us at 541-995-6008 for your mold sampling needs. Our sampling technicians are certified by the American Indoor Air Quality Council, Environmental Assessment Association and the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration.
ATEZ, Inc. can provide bio-cassette air spore sampling, tape-lift sampling, and bulk materials sampling. The cost for testing is variable, dependent on location of building, and testing needed.
How can I contact ATEZ, Inc. for more answers or to discuss a project?
Call us at (541) 995-6008, or email us firstname.lastname@example.org.