Mold gets a bad rap these days, and with all the media hype surrounding the “deadly” black mold, its easy to see why. But the reality of it is different, and mold is not as harmful as the news would have you believe. This factsheet aims to address some of the myths and misconceptions that popular media pushes around.
- First, its important to understand what mold is on a biological level. The simplest definition is that mold is a collection of living microorganisms and fungi that are found pretty much everywhere you go.
- Mold serves an important function in nature, helping break down dead matter and produce useful things such as cheese and Penicillin
- Mold thrives in dark, damp places where there is plenty of moisture and barely any sunlight.
- Mold is diverse. Each of the 100,000 different species of mold has its own distinct shape, size, and even color, and it’s all but impossible to identify different types of mold with the naked eye. The only surefire way to identify mold is to have a sample analyzed by a lab with the appropriate tools.
- Although there are over 100,000 different species of mold, the good news is that a handful of treatment methods are capable of controlling and eliminating all of them.
- Mold grows on pretty much any material, with porous materials being very receptive to mold growth. They’ve been known to grow on everything from paper to wood, and in some cases, even metals and plastic.
- In order to spread, molds release airborne spores that are carried and scattered onto various surfaces by the wind. If there is enough moisture, then the mold will thrive.
- Mold itself is harmless to humans. Rather, the health problems they cause are because of substances called mycotoxins, which are produced by certain molds such as the deadly Black Mold (aka Stachybotrys).
- It’s important to note that due to the diversity of molds, the color is a poor indicator of what it actually is. Thus, molds colored black are not necessarily the Black Mold, and many black-colored molds are, in fact, completely harmless to humans.
- The Environmental Protection Agency notes that 90% of our daily time is spent indoors, and indoor air quality is almost always worse than outdoor air quality. Thus, regardless of its effect on humans, mold should be removed from indoor environments to ensure that the air is as clean as possible.
- The degree to which a person is affected by mold depends on their personal medical history, especially their allergies, rather than anything in the mold itself. The elderly, young children, and those suffering from autoimmune disorders are more likely to be affected by mold.
- Despite what the news would have you believe, deaths and serious illness due to mold is rare.
- Most of the time, tests aren’t necessary to identify the type of mold. Once you see mold, its best to remove it.
- At present, organizations have not yet agreed upon what would constitute an unsafe level of mold in a home. They do, however, agree that the presence of a musty, moldy odor indicates a high level of mold, one that needs to be treated.
- Mold grows on a wide variety of materials, and its very difficult to find materials that mold won’t grow on. Thus, the best way to control mold growth is to control water issues.
- For many homeowners, leaking pipes and plumbing fixtures are the most common sources of unwanted moisture. Fixing these not only reduces the likelihood of mold growth, but also reduces your monthly water bill.
- Cleaning mold off of infested surfaces can be difficult, especially if the material in question is porous. Porous materials can house spores that are all but impossible to remove, and in those cases the infested item should just be discarded.
- If you have a basement, invest in a good sump pump with a battery backup system. Due to the way sump pump systems work, failure often means a river of water flowing into your basement, and a very costly repair. The cost of a good sump pump is far, less than the cost of water damage repair and mold removal.
- Most mold problems in basements are due to seepage around cracks in walls near plumbing. Inspect and repair any leaks in the plumbing, and seal up the cracks to ensure that no moisture can seep through.
- Air out your basement regularly to encourage fresh air exchange.
Mold, like many other things we consider pests, serves an important function in nature, helping to regulate the growth and decay of plant matter. It’s presence straddles the rather fine line between usefulness and harmfulness and is quite intimidating to deal with, especially with larger infestation. Hopefully, by that the key to mold control is moisture control and using the information presented in this document, you’ll be able to tackle your mold problems with confidence.
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