Mold is simply a fungus. There are two main types of fungus, macrofungi and microfungi. Mushrooms are an example of macrofungi. Just like mushrooms, some molds are good and some are bad. Some are used in making antibiotics and cheese, while other types cam be toxic and cause negative health effects. The main reason for mold is to break down dead materials, like wood and fiber that are used in construction materials.
Mold can spread after 24 hours of a water event. It may look like a stain, but when present in larger quantities, called colonies, they could be a health concern.
There are three basic groups: Allergenic, Pathogenic, and Toxic. Allergenic molds can cause allergic symptoms such as breathing and sinus issues. Pathogenic molds can cause suppressed immune systems. Toxic molds can cause health effects in anyone. They could be short term or even lead to cancer.
Mold spores develop from the colony and remain airborne for significant periods of time and are always present, to some degree, in outdoor air. A number of factors allow other contaminants and spores to grow and be released into the air. Especially important is high relative humidity; therefore,it is best to keep relative humidity below 50%.
Besides moisture, mold needs nutrients, or food, to grow. Molds are the most common forms of fungi found on earth. They can grow on almost any material, as long as moisture and oxygen are available. Most buildings are full of organic material that mold can use as food, including paper, cloth, wood, plant material, and even soil. Molds secrete digestive enzymes that decompose the material that it is on. Molds prefer damp or wet material. In most cases, temperature is not an issue. More than one type of mold can be found growing in the same area although conditions such as moisture, light and temperature may favor one species of mold over another.
The #1 Health Concern for the Southeast U.S. is Toxic Mold. Mold thrives in warm moist environments such as crawlspaces. The Southeast United States’ humidity acts as the perfect breeding ground for molds. Montreal’s Public Health Department has done a study that finds a quarter of the children aged 6 months to 12 years, suffer from some sort of respiratory illness caused by excessive moisture in their homes.
Three Truths About Mold:
- Mold Illness is real
- Water Damaged Buildings contain complex biologically active chemicals
- Mold Illness is inflammation which is caused by a damaged immune system.
Here are a few molds that can be found in soil and indoors:
This fungus can be found in air and house dust. It’s presence in indoor air often indicates signs of moisture problems in buildings and it is readily found in water damaged building materials. This species produces the mycotoxin, sterigmatocystin, which is reported to be carcinogenic. It is often connected with moldy odor in houses and causes eye and nose irritation.
This species was one of the first known producers of penicillin. It is commonly found growing as a dark green colony and can produce the mycotoxins roquefortine C, and meleagrin.
This fungus is the third most common Aspergillus species associated with disease and is a very common environmental isolate. It is found in and upon a great variety of substrates including textiles, grains, and soil. It is commonly associated with “fungus ball” a condition wherein fungus actively grows in the human lung, forming a ball, without invading lung tissue. It has been reported to cause skin diseases and is a common cause of fungal related ear infections – otomycosis.
Because of dampness and humidity, dirt crawlspaces in our area must be considered as mold factories from the soil.
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For over 30 years we have worked in many aspects of the indoor air quality business.