WHAT IS MOLD?

Molds are part of the natural environment. Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture. At Right – Mold growing outdoors on firewood. 

CAN MOLD CAUSE HEALTH PROBLEMS?
How much mold can make me sick? It depends. For some people, a relatively small number of mold spores can trigger an asthma attack or lead to other health problems. For other persons, symptoms may occur only when exposure levels are much higher. Nonetheless, indoor mold growth is unsanitary and undesirable. Basically, if you can see or smell mold inside your home, take steps to identify and eliminate the excess moisture and to cleanup and remove the mold.

Are some molds more hazardous than others?
Allergic persons vary in their sensitivities to mold, both as to the amount and the types to which they react. In addition to their allergic properties, certain types of molds, such as Stachybotris chartarum, may produce compounds that have toxic properties, which are called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are not always produced, and whether a mold produces mycotoxins while growing in a building depends on what the mold is growing on, conditions such as temperature, pH, humidity or other unknown factors. When mycotoxins are present, they occur in both living and dead mold spores and may be present in materials that have become contaminated with molds. While Stachybotrys is growing, a wet slime layer covers its spores, preventing them from becoming airborne. However, when the mold dies and dries up, air currents or physical handling can cause spores to become airborne. At present, there is no environmental test to determine whether Stachybotrys growth found in buildings is producing toxins.

Who is at greater risk when exposed to mold?
Exposure to mold is not healthy for anyone inside buildings. Therefore, it is always best to identify and correct high moisture conditions quickly before mold grows and health problems develop.
Some people may have more severe symptoms or become ill more rapidly than others:

  • Individuals with existing respiratory conditions, such as allergies, chemical sensitivities, or asthma.
  • Persons with weakened immune systems (such as people with HIV infection, cancer chemotherapy patients, and so forth)
  • Infants and young children
  • The elderly