Mold: Myths, Mysteries and Truths
What is mold?
- The term “mold” is the common word for a group of fungi that are common on food or wet materials.
- There are thousands of species of mold and they can be any color, shape and size.
- Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) under the right conditions.
- Mold spreads its spores much like a dandelion spreads its seeds. When mold is touched, wiped or sprayed the spores become airborne.
How does mold get into a building?
- Mold and fungal spores occur naturally outdoors, where fungi are the earth’s most important recyclers.
- Mold spores are carried in and out of buildings via air current and are a normal part of the air we breathe.
- Indoors, mold needs moisture to grow; it becomes a problem only where there is water damage, elevated and prolonged humidity, or dampness.
What do you do when you find mold?
- What is the size of the mold area? The usual rule of thumb is any mold area bigger than ten square feet should be addressed by a professional.
- Get an inspection from a third party. Hiring an environmental inspector to write a protocol gives you an unbiased evaluation of the problem. The inspector has nothing to gain by increasing the size and scope of the job.
- Hire a professional remediation contractor that will provide an estimate based on the protocol from your inspector.
- Fix the root cause of the moisture. This is the most important part; if you do not fix the moisture intrusion you will have a mold problem again.
Myth: If it’s black it must be toxic.
Truth: The news media and some contractors often refer to “black mold” or “toxic black mold.” It is usually associated with Stachybotrys chartarum, a type of greenish‐black mold commonly associated with heavy water damage. Not all molds that appear to be black are Stachybotrys. The known health effects from exposure to Stachybotrys are similar to those caused by other common molds, and in high exposure situations (as in agriculture), are known to be associated with severe health effects in some people. Such exposures seldom, if ever, occur in buildings except during remediation activities by people not taking appropriate precautions.
- Mold is a symptom; moisture is the problem.
- Mold will not grow without moisture.
- If you find mold, there is help available.
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