Mold is part of the natural environment and can be found everywhere: indoors and outdoors. 25% of the earth's biomass is made up of different kinds of mold and mold spores.
Mold is not usually a problem, unless it begins growing indoors in excessive amounts. The spores are very small and float in the air. They are carried on clothing and can enter the structure by simply coming in on a breeze. They may be present on clothing, furnishings, plants or even food that has formed mold colonies, such as those seen on outdated bread or fruit.
There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control excessive indoor mold growth is to control moisture levels within the built environment, including excess humidity
If mold is present, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture to prevent its return.
Mold is a fungus that grows in the form of multi-cellular filaments called hyphae. They cover surfaces as fluffy mycelia and can produce spores. There are thousands of known varieties of molds.
They all require moisture for growth and derive energy from the organic matter on which they live. This is broken down by enzymes released from the mycelia (the mass of hyphae) into simpler compounds.
Molds reproduce by producing large numbers of small spores which may contain a single nucleus or be multi-nucleate. Some produce small, hydrophobic spores that are adapted for wind dispersal and may remain airborne for long periods. Other mold spores have slimy sheaths and are more suited to water dispersal. Mold spores are often spherical or ovoid single cells, but can be multi-cellular and variously shaped as well.
Aside from a water intrusion event such as flooding, a roof leak or burst pipes, the most common cause of mold is excessive humidity levels inside the home or office. To keep mold at bay, your inhabitable space should be kept ideally between 30-50% range (www.epa.gov/mold).
Mold enters your home as tiny spores. Like most living things, mold needs moisture, oxygen and a food source to begin growing, digesting and destroying your home. Mold colonies can grow on almost any surface. You can't deprive mold of oxygen or food sources, so it is imperative to control moisture in your home.
You know you have a mold problem when you smell a musty odor or you see small black or white specks on walls, furniture or other surfaces. If you notice mold or know of water damage, it is time to take action and control the present mold as well as any future growth.
When molds are disturbed, they release spores into the air. You can be exposed by breathing this air. You can also be exposed through touching moldy items, eating moldy foods or accidental hand-to-mouth contact.
Molds produce allergens and irritants. People sensitive to this allergen will have typical allergic responses like, sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and skin rash. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. The above does not describe all potential health effects related to mold exposure (www.epa.gov/mold).
In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary.* If you have mold, you need to remove it despite the type. Currently, there are no EPA regulations or standards or threshold limit values (TLVs) for airborne concentrations of mold or mold spores.
*Read more below taken directly from www.epa.gov
* According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (2010) pamphlet
-A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home-
In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. Since no EPA or other federal limits have been set for mold or mold spores, sampling cannot be used to check a building's compliance with federal mold standards. Surface sampling may be useful to determine if an area has been adequately cleaned or remediated. Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods and interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other professional organizations.
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