Mold 101: What You Need To Know
Generally speaking, mold is a type of fungi that is neither plant nor animal. This means, unlike plants, it cannot derive energy from the sun or actively “hunt” for food like an animal. Therefore, mold must be opportunistic to survive. In order to reproduce, it regularly sends microscopic spores into the air searching for a suitable environment to live. Mold only needs a few requirements to survive: water, warm temperatures and an organic food source. Once it has located the perfect environment, it can begin to germinate (spread and reproduce) remarkably fast, sometimes within 24 hours! This is why we often see a mold bloom after severe flooding or other types of water damage.
As undesirable as mold is in the home, it plays a vital role outside the home. One of the main functions of fungi is to break down dead or decaying organic material and recycle it for reuse by plants and animals. It's nature's most efficient recycling system! As essential as this function is in nature, mold can act as a parasite and wreak havoc on our INDOOR environment. Many of your home's building materials are "organic" and if given the right conditions, can become the perfect habitat for mold.
Mold can be found virtually everywhere. We are all exposed daily to microscopic mold spores that are constantly floating in and out of our home. In order to grow however, mold must have water. In fact, if a mold spore lands on an unsuitable surface, it can lie dormant for years waiting for moist conditions. Unfortunately, mold doesn't have to grow to become a problem to our health. Dead or alive, mold spores remain allergenic. Some people are very sensitive to molds and can have severe reactions living with mold.
Several species of mold growing after flood damage.
More concerning is that some molds are able to produce toxins, (commonly called mycotoxins) that severely compromise our indoor air quality and almost always elicit a negative and sometimes deadly toxic response by our immune system, regardless of sensitivity to other types of molds. In the June 9, 2006 report Mold Prevention Strategies and Possible Health Effects In the Aftermath Of Hurricanes and Major Floods, the CDC concludes that “Excessive exposure to mold-contaminated materials can cause adverse health effects in susceptible persons regardless of the type of mold or the extent of the contamination.”
Needless to say, mold can be a big problem for our home and health. Years ago, mold was merely an inconvenience to homeowners but air quality of the home is something every person should consider. People are spending more time indoors and are beginning to piece together the connection between poor health and mold in their homes. The best method of protection for your home and health is prevention. Here are a few facts to remember:
- Mold should always be removed from the material, not just cleaned from the surface.
- The biggest factor for mold growth is water. Remember: stop the moisture and control the mold.
- Chlorine Bleach should NEVER be recommended to clean mold/mildew.
- If you notice a "moldy" odor in your home, STOP and investigate.
- Mold can affect your home's indoor air quality that will eventually cause serious health threats.
To learn more about how to get rid of mold in your home, GO HERE