10 FUN(?) FACTS ABOUT MOLD!
1. Outdoors, mold exists nearly everywhere.
2. There are over 10,000 species of mold.
3. Mold helps break down, or decompose, organic material.
4. Every home has mold, somewhere.
5. Not all mold is harmfully toxic but it can certainly cause allergy problems.
6. Stachybotrys, a form of toxic mold, is actually uncommon and usually found only in homes that have been flooded or have other severe, prolonged water damage.
7. One common antibiotic is actually a purified mold – penicillium notatum, or penicillin.
8. Mold growth in a home is not limited to flooding & water damage – any exposure to moisture such as a lawn sprinkler, condensation, steam (as from an unvented shower in the bathroom) or periodic leaking that is not attended to will foster the growth of mold.
9. Your homeowner insurance may specifically exclude coverage for damage directly related to mold.
10. Mold spores can not be eliminated from indoor environments; BUT they will only germinate into mold in the presence of moisture.
Outdoors, mold is an important part of the ecosystem. Mold destroys what it comes in contact with; breaking down decaying organic matter, such as dead leaves and timber…just as penicillin kills bacteria. Once mold comes indoors to roost, however, the problems begin. Mold will ruin clothing, paint, wood, carpeting, furniture, and books, infiltrating all porous surfaces and taking root like a parasitic vine.
Why are there now so many problems related to mold, when until recently the terms “toxic mold” and “sick building syndrome” were virtually unheard of? One suggestion is that building standards have changed so much in recent years.
In an effort to make our homes more energy efficient, more stringent air circulation guidelines cause our homes to retain more moisture. We are exchanging one problem for another…though the mold can certainly be dealt with if caught in time.
Mold presence does not have to be the end of the world. Several key factors in controlling mold in the home include eliminating the moisture problems that cause the mold in the first place, thoroughly cleaning the affected surface with detergent, and if necessary, replacing the materials infected.
Disposable N95 respirators, non-vented goggles, and rubber or latex gloves should be worn when cleaning up mold. When disturbed, mold spores are released into the air and can cause any number of mild to serious reactions if inhaled. Those with weak immune systems, respiratory problems, or other health issues should NOT attempt to clean up or remove mold themselves.
If your home has had a leaky roof, water in the basement, plumbing problems, loose or damaged grout in the bathroom or shower area, windows with lingering condensation, or any other recurring or prolonged presence of moisture, you should expect to find mold.
The EPA recommends that affected areas larger than 10 square feet be mitigated by a specialist.
Further Reading: The Humongous Fungus Previously Amongus – My Home’s Moldy Past