About / Description
When mold spores are present, they can present a health hazard to humans, potentially causing allergic reactions, producing mycotoxins, or causing fungal infection known as mycosis.
In 1994 Harvard University School of Public Health performed a study of 10,000 homes in the United
States and Canada found 50 percent had “conditions of water damage and mold associated with a 50 to 100 percent increase in respiratory symptoms.”
In 1999 the Mayo Clinic did a study attributing “all the chronic sinus infections afflicting 37 million Americans to mold.”
USA Weekend December, 1999 reports, “a new medical study attributes almost 100 percent of chronic sinus infections to mold. A 300 percent increase in the asthma rate over the past 20 years has been linked to molds.”
Molds come in many colors including white. “Black mold” is not a species or specific kind of mold, and neither is “toxic mold.” Sometimes the news media use the terms “toxic mold” and “black mold” to refer to molds that may produce mycotoxins or for a specific mold, Stachybotrys chartarum. Molds that produce mycotoxins are often referred to as toxigenic fungi. Some compounds produced by molds have strong smells and are volatile and quickly released into the air. These compounds are known as microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs). Because mVOCs often have strong or unpleasant odors, they can be the source of the “moldy odor” or musty smell frequently associated with mold growth. A moldy odor suggests that mold is growing in the building and should be investigated.
Dampness results from water incursion either from internal sources like leaking pipes, leaking water heater, malfunctioning dishwasher, improper installation of tile or sewage overflow or maybe an external source such as rainwater coming through a leaking roof. Excessive moisture becomes a problem when various materials in buildings like rugs, drywall, ceiling tiles become wet for extended periods of time. High relative humidity in the air that is not properly controlled with air conditioning or dehumidifiers can also lead to excessive dampness. Nearby flooding can cause excessive dampness from high amounts of humidity. Dampness is a problem in buildings because it provides the moisture that supports the growth of bacteria, fungi or in other words mold.
Procedure / Solutions
A local highly trained technician will be dispatched to inspect property for assessment and determine the source of moisture (a licensed plumber may need to be called in) and take appropriate measures to make repairs. Saturated building materials, such as drywall and furnishings as a result of pipe leaks or flooding needs to be dried within 24 to 48 hours to prevent the growth of mold.
Depending on the degree of contamination (there are four levels of mold growth, and four levels of mold remediation), we may require a microbiologist to test the area and create a plan of action.
Follow the plan of action created by microbiologist, including coordinating repair of leak, extracting water, drying structure and removing and remediating the mold damage.
To determine the cost for the removal and or remediation of the affected area will determine greatly upon the size of the area, the time involved for the proper repairs and what materials are affected, along with what was the cause of the mold.
Tips / Prevention
Humidifiers are not recommended for use in buildings without proper vapor barriers because of potential damage from moisture buildup. Consult a building contractor to determine the adequacy of the vapor barrier in your house. Use a humidity indicator to measure the relative humidity in your house. The American Society of Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends these maximum indoor humidity levels.
Outdoor Recommended Indoor
Temperature Relative Humidity
Indoor Relative Humidity
+20o F. 35%
+10o F. 30%
0o F. 25%
-10o F. 20%
-20o F. 15%
If you are allergic to mold, or have asthma, being around mold may make your condition worse. If you have a chronic lung condition or a weak immune system, you could develop mold infections in your lungs and you should try to avoid buildings contaminated with mold.
In general you don’t need a protective mask, called a N95 mask, just for re-entering a building, but if you plan to clean up mold you should buy one at your local home supply store and follow instructions on the package for fitting it tightly on your face. If you think that mold is affecting your health, please see your health care provider.