What is
mold?

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Mold is a microscopic fungus that helps nature decompose dead organic material. Both mold and mildew are different types of fungus, but mold is usually shades of black, blue, red, and green, whereas mildew is white.

Why is
mold important?

Mold spores are invisible to the naked eye, and there are many different types. Some have beneficial by products such as yeasts and penicillin, while others live off of food products and the building materials in our home1.

WHITE_SPORE

Mold spores are invisible to the naked eye, and there are many different types. Some have beneficial by products such as yeasts and penicillin, while others live off of food products and the building materials in our home1.

Mold is important to our ecosystems as it helps break down organic material, but mold in your home can lead to property damage and health issues.

WHITE_APPLE

Mold is important to our ecosystems as it helps break down organic material, but mold in your home can lead to property damage and health issues.

Mold and
your health

The fungi produce allergens (substances which can cause allergic reactions in some individuals). Inhaling or touching mold spores may provoke bodily reactions such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and skin rash. Mold exposure can also irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs2.

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The fungi produce allergens (substances which can cause allergic reactions in some individuals). Inhaling or touching mold spores may provoke bodily reactions such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and skin rash. Mold exposure can also irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs2.

Of the 21.8 million people reported to have asthma in the U.S., approximately 4.6 million cases are estimated to be attributable to dampness and mold exposure in the home according to the EPA3.

In fact, a survey reported that 42% of asthma sufferers found mold to be a trigger4.

ASTHMA PUMP

Of the 21.8 million people reported to have asthma in the U.S., approximately 4.6 million cases are estimated to be attributable to dampness and mold exposure in the home according to the EPA3.

In fact, a survey reported that 42% of asthma sufferers found mold to be a trigger4.

Mold and
home damage

Mold spores are like seeds, but invisible to the naked eye, that float through the air and deposit on surfaces. When the temperature, moisture, and available nutrient conditions are correct, the pores can form into new visible mold colonies where they are deposited5.

Mold needs moisture to grow, so the humidity levels in your home are a factor to consider. Excess humidity can lead to dampness and mold. Under the right conditions, mold can grow anywhere in the home and will destroy the material of which it grows on. Mold will grow more rapidly on some material types than others, in particular wood, textiles and cellulose based materials like cardboard and paper.

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Mold is a natural part of our ecosystem. But when household mold growth gets out of hand it can affect the health of both the home and your family. However, every individual is different and some are more susceptible to the negative effects.

In order to limit exposure one should monitor air quality, particularly temperature and humidity levels, as these interact to provide the best conditions for mold growth.

How does
mold grow?

Mold grows by increasing its length of hyphae which look like long, microscopic strings.

In this way, a small colony of mold can grow to cover large surface areas. In order to grow, mold also releases small seed-like spores. When they are released, they are carried through the air or water to a new location6.

 

If spores land on a damp surface where nutrients are available to eat and the temperature suits them7, they will start to grow their hyphae. Mold spreads on the surface and also downwards into the affected area.

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How can I verify
if my house has mold?

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Mold may be mistaken for dirt or other discolorations. But there are a few indicators you can look for:

Mold color

The color of mold is influenced by the source of nutrients and how long it has been able to grow. If we are able to see mold, it often appears black or green.

Mold shape

Mold will grow on most building materials, including engineered wood products. On building materials, mold appears as woolly or powdery growths.

Hidden mold

In some cases, mold can be hidden. It can grow behind wallpaper, paneling and drywall, though you may be unable to see it until you look for it. A professional can help you find it by removing small parts of paneling, wallpaper etc to check for mold if you suspect it.

Verifying you have mold

While many labs can clinically verify mold, there are simple tests one can do at home. The APA suggests applying a few drops of fresh 5% solution of household bleach to the stain8.

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Usually, mold will turn lighter in color and nearly disappear within one or two minutes. Other substances that remain the same color are probably dirt or another form of discoloration.

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How can I
prevent mold?

The process of mold growth has multiple variables and is a time-dependent process affected by humidity levels, temperature and material for the mold to grow on (building material, furniture, etc)9.

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LOG
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To prevent and control mold growth indoors, the best method is to control the humidity level. This is because mold spores cannot grow if moisture is not present. Healthy indoor relative humidity levels are between 30-60%.

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Monitoring
mold

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the key to mold control is moisture control10.

Mold formation is closely connected to indoor air quality. Insight into temperature and humidity levels indoors allows for effective ventilation. Avoiding excess humidity, condensation on surfaces and excess moisture in materials, will decrease the chance of mold growth.

Ventilation

Ventilation is key for many indoor air quality concerns including mold. Ensure ventilation is distributed effectively throughout spaces11.

Prevent moisture

As mold needs water and nutrients to form,cleaning and removing the mold
you see is just one step. It is important to also fix the issue that caused the mold formation in the first place.

For example, if mold is formed due to a water leak, ensure you not only remove the mold but fix the leak as well. This will help to prevent future mold problems. In addition, dry out water damaged areas immediately, or if that is not possible within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth12.

What do my mold risk
indication levels mean?

0-3
GOOD: Little risk for mold growth, but there is always a possibility for mold above 0.
3-5
FAIR: Mold will grow especially on vulnerable materials such as textiles and wood.
5-10
POOR: There is a high mold risk for all kinds of materials.
When your graph turns green after some time in yellow or red: Mold will start to die, however, the process is slow.
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Sources:

  1. https://www.apawood.org/buildabetterhome
  2. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf
  3. https://www2.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Archive/EETD-mold-risk.html
  4. https://www2.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Archive/EETD-mold-risk.html
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indoor_mold
  6. https://www.epa.gov/sites/productio/documents/moldguide12.pdf
  7. https://www.apawood.org/buildabetterhome
  8. https://www.roseburg.com/UserFiles/Library/Mold_and_mildew.pdf
  9. http://www.euro.who.int/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf
  10. https://www.epa.gov/sites/productio/documents/moldguide12.pdf
  11. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf
  12. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-10/documents/moldguide12.pdf