What is Mold?
Mold spores are everywhere in our environment. They are in the air we breathe and on everything we touch. Most mold spores are harmless and usually killed by sunlight and warmth. Some molds are good and help with decomposition causing plants to reuse nutrients and recycle the air. Spores floating around rarely cause problems. When spores are exposed to a constant source of moisture, however, the resulting growth of mold colonies presents a real hazard to building structures and health.
What is Mold and How Does Mold Smell and Look Like?
Mold is a type of fungus, and most molds are eukaryotic micro-organisms that decompose dead organic materials like leaves, wood, and plants. Most spores and hair-like bodies of mold colonies are somewhat small, to begin with, and may need to be seen with a microscope.
Mold, growing on a surface, usually appears as black, green or blue. The color of the mold is determined by the mold it is and by the nutrient source, surface substrate and the age of the mold colony.
Black mold, a cause of allergies and sickness, is a particularly dangerous mold. It is not powdery, and it usually grows in moist areas like bathrooms where hot showers are located. Black mold is generally found in a spot-like pattern and can moist or slimy to the touch.
Mold needs water, a food source, oxygen and a temperature between 40° and 100° Fahrenheit to grow. To get food, mold decomposes organic matter like cellulose, lignin, and semi-cellulose and it grows on wood, gypsum board drywall, and materials made from wood. Mold secrets digestive fluids that decompose the substrate which provides nutrients for mold colonies to grow and survive. Mold can also digest synthetic material like adhesives, pastes, and paint. Mold cannot get nutrients from inorganic matter like plastic, glass, metal or concrete, but it can grow on the dirt and dust layers prevalent on these surfaces.
Some molds get moisture from damp air or if the relative humidity is above 60%. The high humidity in an area moistens surfaces where mold can grow.
Mold often smells earthy or damp almost like dirty wet socks. If this smell is in places where you know there are no dirty and wet socks, look for mold.
Once passive mold spores turn into active colonies, they can decompose permanent structures such as wood and drywall, and they can become toxic to those living in the home. Mold grows over many square feet of material by the extension of hyphae like tiny root hairs. Mold also spreads via spores like small seeds. Spores are carried by air or water to different locations with the right conditions for growth. Once on damp surfaces with food, oxygen and a temperature right for them, spores will grow.
Health Hazards of Mold
The health effects of mold exposure vary with each person, but exposure to mold can cause allergies. If you have asthma, mold exposure can cause asthma attacks or cause chronic asthma to get worse. Those with suppressed immune systems are susceptible to fungal infections from mold colonies. If you or a family member has AIDS, certain types of cancer or those who have had organ transplants and on certain drugs are susceptible to life-threatening fungal infections.
Exposure to black mold has caused intense health problems for those living for prolonged periods in toxic areas. Problems can include brain fog, migraines, rashes, mood changes, fatigue, joint pain, digestive problems and a plethora of other symptoms. Don’t wait for these health hazards to begin, get your home remediated as soon as possible.
Treatment for Mold
You can help prevent mold from growing by keeping your home dry. Mold cannot grow if it does not have moisture even though mold spores are everywhere. Prevent excessive moistures levels in your home by using exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens. These are the places where moisture is often present. Vent your clothes dryer and avoid using humidifiers. Treatment for mold includes keeping air vents clean and dry, wiping under sinks and around drains, and watching for mold in tile grout in showers, tubs, and sinks.
When mold colonies are discovered, it is essential to have the mold removed while treating the structure with proper remediation techniques to prevent any further mold growth and damage. AEI Decon uses high-quality treatments for mold that are non-hazardous to human health to get rid of your mold and prevent it from growing again.
Watch for areas of potential water damage to your home. Clean up spills or leaks soon and if leaks are found, have them evaluated and cleaned up using high-quality treatments for mold.