Molds are micro-organisms that are decomposers of dead organic material such as leaves, wood and plants. The spores and individual mold colonies are too small for us to see without a microscope. When a lot of mold is growing on a surface, its often appears black, blue or green. The color of the mold is determined by the type and is influenced by the nutrient source, surface substrate and the age of the colony.
What Does Mold Need to Grow?
Mold needs water to grow. Without water mold cannot grow. Mold also needs a food source, oxygen and a temperature between 40 degrees and 100 degrees F. since mold decomposes dead organic material (cellulose, hemi-cellulose and lignin) it can grow on wood, paper (such as on gypsum board drywall) and other materials made from wood. Molds secrete digestive fluids that decompose the substrate, making nutrients available. Mold can also digest some synthetic materials such as adhesives, pastes and paints. While mold cannot get nutrients from inorganic material such as concrete, plastic, glass and metal, it can grow on the organic dirt/dust layer present on these surfaces. Molds prefer damp or wet material. Some molds can get moisture from the air when the air is very damp.
How does Mold Spread?
Mold can grow by extension of hyphae or making spores. Spores can survive conditions that are too sunny, hot, cold, dry or wet for mold to grow. When spore are released they can be carried by air or water to new locations. When spores land on a damp surface that has food and oxygen available, and if the temperature suits them, they will start to grow. It is important to realize that mold spores are ubiquitous in nature and are present everywhere. Wherever there is decaying organic material (leaves, mulch, and wood) mold and mold spores are also present. Every day we are exposed to airborne mold spores from outdoor sources. It is almost impossible to create a mold free space or to keep a space mold free. What we can do - and should do - is to control the amount of moisture and hence the amount of mold in our indoor environmental. Too much mold can affect the health of you and your family. In addition, mold can damage or destroy building materials such as the wood or gypsum board in our homes.
What Are the Health Effects of Exposure to Mold?
Most people are not affected by exposure to low concentrations of mold, unless they are exposed to a lot of mold. Each person is different; what amounts to a "lot of exposure" for some people is "not so much "for others. Remember, mold is everywhere; we are all exposed to mold every day. Exposure to mold can cause and exasperate allergies in susceptible people, but we don't know how much exposure is necessary to start the development of allergy. If you have asthma, exposure to mold can cause an asthma attack or make your chronic asthma get worse. At this point we do not know if exposure to mold, especially early in life, can lead to the development of asthma. Although exposure to "enough" mold can cause allergies to mold in susceptible people, accurately diagnosing the allergy can be difficult. Only a few molds seem to be able to sometimes cause an infection in healthy people; fortunately these molds do not usually grow in buildings. However, people with suppressed immune systems are much more susceptible to fungal (mold) infections and many of these fungi do grow in wet buildings. Individuals with AIDS , certain types of cancer and those with organ (heart, kidney) transplants on certain drugs are much more susceptible to fungal infections. Molds sometimes make powerful chemicals called mycotoxins. We think that molds make these mycotoxins to decrease the growth of other molds and bacteria, a competition deterrent. Penicillin is a mycotoxin that we use because it can kill certain bacteria. Unfortunately some of these mycotoxins make people sick. Mycotoxins can cause illness when they are inhaled, absorbed through skin or ingested (swallowed). Presently we do not know all that much about the health effects of most mycotoxins on humans. Most of what we know about mycotoxins comes from epsoure of farm animal to moldy grain or hay. We do not have any tests that can determine whether mycotoxins are the cause of someone's illness. We cannot easily or reliably measure the levels of mycotoxins in air samples to determine exposure levels. The understanding mold its effects on humans is and ever-changing science between updated on almost a daily basis.
At GAC, our licensed and experienced professionals will test air and or all surfaces for mold hazard. Testing includes; an overall visual inspection of potential mold hazards, collection of air and or direct swab samples and a written report on findings and recommendations. If mold is found, there is remediation available that include cleaning of air, removal, encapsulation and repair of mold contaminated surfaces. Take the next step towards protecting yourself and your family.
Call our offices to schedule a mold assessment and inspection.
- Mold exposure is most harmful to young children or any one with weakened immune system
- People can get mold in their bodies by breathing or ingesting spores
- A mold inspection can identify areas of concern before problems arise
- There are many options available for reducing mold hazards
- Removing mold improperly can increase the danger to your family.