Mold spores. They almost sound like alien invaders from a 1950's sci-fi movie --"Attack of the Killer Mold Spores!" But that description may not be too far off the mark. Mold is dangerous. It can be more prevalent and can cause more health problems than termites, carbon monoxide, asbestos, or radon. In fact, mold is everywhere and impossible to get rid of in nature. According to the EPA website, "There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture." From one third to one half of all buildings in the United States have the damp conditions necessary to facilitate the growth of mold, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission*.
My friends at Downriver Clean Up and Restoration tell me mold and mold spores can cause serious health problems and, in the case of someone with mold sensitivities, even death. Many people are vaguely aware of the health concerns when it comes to mold but most do not know that mold can also cause serious damage to a house or building (similar to a termite infestation.) When it comes to protecting your family and your home, fighting and preventing mold should be at the top of every homeowner's list.
WHAT IS MOLD?
The simple answer: molds are part of the fungi kingdom, similar to yeasts or mushrooms (the antibiotic Penicillin is actually a mold.)Mold is a living organism, a part of nature, and even has a beneficial function - it breaks down all of our dead organic matter. Mold reproduces by releasing tiny spores, invisible to the naked eye, into the air. These spores land in moist areas and begin to grow and spread. While there are hundreds of thousands of varieties of mold, none would exist without the presence of moisture, air, and something to feed on. Since mold will always exist outdoors, it is important to control the one ingredient a homeowner doesn't need inside the house - moisture.
Mold can grow on rotting wood, grass, weeds, and compost piles. The problem is that it can also grow where you don't want it to - indoors. It can be found on food or clothing, in bathrooms and attics and damp basements, on carpeting, and even inside the walls of a house. Mold can feed on the wood in the wall, breaking down the materials as it spreads unseen throughout a house. As the mold digests organic material, it continues to spread to find new food sources.
Sources of Mold
Spotting mold can be easy, if the mold colony is visible. Mold comes in a variety of colors (including white, black, green, gray, brown, and more), bunching as spots or discolorations. If the mold is not visible, someone may not recognize mold is present until it is late in the process. People discover mold when there is physical damage to a structure or an increase in musty smells. Sometimes mold won't be found until the occupants experience health problems. By then, it may be too late. Whenever a house or building has an overexposure to moisture, it is important to inspect for mold. Moisture overexposure can come from many sources, including:
- Roofs or basements that leak
- Irrigation or fire sprinklers
- Shower or bath water
- Sink or sewer overflow
- Plumbing leaks