What is mold?
Molds are simple, microscopic organisms, found virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Molds can be found on plants, foods, dry leaves, and other organic material. Molds are needed for breaking down dead material. Mold spores are very tiny and lightweight, and this allows them to travel through the air. Mold growths can often be seen in the form of discoloration, ranging from white to orange and from green to brown and black. When molds are present in large quantities, they can cause allergic symptoms similar to those caused by plant pollen.
Should I be concerned about mold in my home?
Yes, if the contamination is extensive. When airborne mold spores are present in large numbers, they can cause allergic reactions, asthma episodes, infections, and other respiratory problems for people. Exposure to high spore levels can cause the development of an allergy to the mold. Mold can also cause structural damage to your home. Similarly, when wood goes through a period of wetting, then drying, it can eventually warp and cause walls to crack or become structurally weak.
What does mold need to grow?
For mold to grow, it needs:
* food sources - such as leaves, wood, paper, or dirt
* a source of moisture
* a place to grow
Can mold become a problem in my home?
Yes, if there is moisture available to allow mold to thrive and multiply.
The following are sources of indoor moisture that may cause problems:
* backed-up sewers
* leaky roofs
* mud or ice dams
* damp basement or crawl spaces
* constant plumbing leaks
* house plants -- watering can generate large amounts of moisture
* steam from cooking
* shower/bath steam and leaks
* wet clothes on indoor drying lines
* clothes dryers vented indoors
* combustion appliances (e.g. stoves) not exhausted to the outdoors
If you see moisture condensation on the windows or walls, it is also possible that you have a combustion problem in your home. It is important to have sufficient fresh air available for fuel burning appliances, such as the furnace, water heater, stove or range, clothes dryer, as well as a fireplace. A shortage of air for these appliances can result in back drafting of dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide into the home. To prevent back drafting of air, you need either open vents or a ventilation system that brings fresh air into the home to replace air that is exhausted out. Have your local utility company or a professional heating contractor inspect your fuel-burning appliances annually
Filters4Life has many Indoor Air Quality products to stop the growth of mold.
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How can I tell if I have mold in my house?
If you can see mold, or if there is an earthy or musty
odor, you can assume you have a mold problem. Allergic individuals may
experience the symptoms listed above. Look for previous water damage.
Visible mold growth is found underneath materials where water has damaged
surfaces, or behind walls. Look for discoloration and leaching from plaster.
Should I test my home for mold?
The Arizona Department of Health Services does not
recommend testing as the first step to determine if you have a mold problem.
mold can be expensive, and requires equipment not available to the
public. Residents of individual private homes must pay a contractor
to carry out such sampling, as it is not done by public health
agencies. Mold cleanup is usually considered one of the housekeeping
tasks of the
private citizen, along with roof and plumbing repairs, sweeping and
cleaning. Another problem is that there are few available standards
for judging what is an acceptable quantity of mold. In all locations,
are some outdoor levels of molds. If sampling is carried out, an
air sample needs to be taken at the same time as the sample indoors, to
provide a baseline measurement.
susceptibility of individuals varies so greatly, sampling
is at best a general guide. The simplest approach is: if you can see
or smell mold, you have a problem. Once you know the problem exists,
follow the procedure given next. Unless the source of moisture
is removed and the contaminated area is cleaned and disinfected, mold growth
is likely to recur.
am I exposed to indoor molds?
Mold is found everywhere, indoors and outdoors. It is common to find
mold spores in the air of homes and growing on damp surfaces. Much of
the mold found indoors comes from outdoor sources. Therefore, everyone
is exposed to some mold on a daily basis without evident harm. Mold
spores primarily cause health problems when they enter the air and are
inhaled in large numbers. People can also be exposed to mold through
skin contact and eating.
How much mold can make me sick?
It depends. For some people, a relatively small number of mold spores
can cause health problems. For other people, it may take many more. The
basic rule is, if you can see or smell it, take steps to eliminate the
excess moisture, and to cleanup and remove the mold.
Who is at greater risk when exposed to
Exposure to mold is not healthy for anyone inside buildings. It is
important to quickly identify and correct any moisture sources before
health problems develop. The following individuals appear to be at
higher risk for adverse health effects of molds:
compromised patients (people with HIV infection, cancer
chemotherapy, liver disease, etc.)
with existing respiratory conditions, such as allergies,
multiple chemical sensitivity, and asthma.
People with these
special concerns should consult a physician if they are having health
What symptoms are common?
Allergic reactions may be the most common health problem of mold
exposure. Typical symptoms reported (alone or in combination)
problems, such as wheezing, and difficulty in
- nasal and
watery, reddened, blurry vision, light sensitivity
- nose and
nervous system problems (constant headaches, memory
problems, and mood changes)
- aches and
some molds more hazardous than others?
Allergic persons vary in their sensitivities to mold, both as to amount
and type needed to cause reactions. In addition, certain types of molds
can produce toxins, called mycotoxins, that the mold uses to inhibit or
prevent the growth of other organisms. Mycotoxins are found in both
living and dead mold spores.
Materials permeated with mold need to be removed, even after they are
disinfected with cleaning solutions. Allergic and toxic
effects can remain in dead spores. Exposure to mycotoxins may present a
greater hazard than that of allergenic or irritative molds. Mycotoxins
have been found in homes, agricultural settings, food, and office