What is mold?
Molds are microscopic fungi, a group of organisms which also includes mushrooms and yeasts. Fungi are highly adapted to grow and reproduce rapidly, producing spores and mycelia in the process.
People encounter mold every day. Foods spoil because of mold. Leaves decay and pieces of wood lying on the ground rot due to mold. That fuzzy black growth on wet window sills is mold. Paper or fabrics stored in a damp place get a musty smell that is due to the action of molds.
Over 270 species of mold have been identified as living in homes. Molds that grow inside may be different from the ones found outdoors.
What is Mold Contamination?
Molds will grow if they are provided with moisture and nutrients. If we keep things dry, molds do not grow. High moisture levels can be the result of water coming in from the outside, through the floor, walls or roof; or from plumbing leaks; or moisture produced by the people living in the home, through daily activities like bathing, washing clothes or cooking. Water enters the building when there is a weakness or failure in the structure. Moisture accumulates within the home when there is not enough ventilation to expel that moisture.
How does mold contamination affect people?
Health experts indicate that, depending on the type of mold present in a home, the amount and degree of exposure, and the health condition of the occupant, the health effects of mold can range from being insignificant to causing allergic reactions and illness.
Pregnant women, infants, the elderly and those with health problems, such as respiratory disease or a weakened immune system, are more at risk when exposed to mold.
Mold fungi has long been known to affect humans in various ways, including disease of essential crop plants, decay of stored foods with possible concomitant production of mycotoxins, superficial and systemic infection of human tissues, and disease associated with immune stimulation such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis and toxic pneumonitis. The spores of a large number of important fungi are very tiny, and therefore are able to enter the lungs. They also may contain significant amounts of mycotoxins. Diseases associated with inhalation of fungal spores can include toxic pneumonitis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, tremors, chronic fatigue syndrome, kidney failure, and cancer
How to identify mold in the home:
Discoloration is a sign of mold. However, all discoloration is not due to mold. Carpeting near baseboards, for example, can be stained by outdoor pollution entering the home. Stains or soot may also be caused by the smoke from burning candles or cigarettes.
Mold may be any color: black, white, red, orange, yellow, blue or violet. Our mold test kit is an extremely cost-effective method to test suspicious spots or discolorations to determine whether or not they are mold.
How can I identify mold in my home?
Sometimes molds are hidden and cannot be seen. A musty or earthy smell often indicates the presence of molds. But a smell may not be present for all molds. Even when you don't notice a smell, wet spots, dampness or evidence of a water leak are indications of moisture problems and mold may follow.
How can I prevent mold in my home?
Steps to prevent mold:
- Keep the home dry.
- Find and fix water leaks.
- Discard clutter and excess stored materials.
- Clean and maintain the home regularly.
- Encourage lifestyle practices that reduce moisture.
Basic steps to prevent and reduce mold growth:
Mold needs moisture to grow. Controlling the moisture and keeping the home dry prevents the growth of mold.
Reduce the amount of stored materials, especially items that are no longer used. Molds grow on fabrics, paper, wood and practically anything that collects dust and holds moisture.
- Check your home for signs of moisture and molds. If there are suspicious areas use our Mold Test Kit to determine whether or not you have mold in your home.
- Find out if water is coming in from the outside and if substantial moisture is produced inside the home.
- Fix any water leaks promptly.
- Consider different ways moisture is produced inside the home (for example, cooking, bathing, plant jungle). Remove the moisture as it is produced by using exhaust fans. Instead, open windows for a short time, but note that the wind can push the moisture to other parts of the home.
- Measure how much moisture is in the air. To find the relative humidity in your home, you’ll need a hygrometer. You can buy one at a hardware store or electronics store. A hygrometer costs from $10 to $60. Relative humidity in the home should be under 45 per cent in the winter (or lower to avoid condensation on windows). If necessary, use a dehumidifier to lower the relative humidity.