Molds are found everywhere, and can grow on almost any substance when moisture is present. They reproduce by spores, which are carried by air currents. When spores land on a moist surface suitable for life such as drywall, cloth, or any porous material they begin to grow. Mold is normally found indoors at levels which do not affect most healthy individuals.
Because common building materials are capable of sustaining mold growth and mold spores are ubiquitous, mold growth in an indoor environment is typically related to water or moisture and may be caused by incomplete drying of flooring materials (such as concrete). Flooding, leaky roofs, building-maintenance or indoor-plumbing problems can lead to interior mold growth. Water vapor commonly condenses on surfaces cooler than the moisture-laden air, enabling mold to flourish. This moisture vapor passes through walls and ceilings, typically condensing during the winter in climates with a long heating season. Floors over crawl spaces and basements, without vapor barriers or with dirt floors, are mold-prone. The “doormat test” detects moisture from concrete slabs without a sub-slab vapor barrier. Some materials, such a polished concrete, do not support mold growth.
Molds are ubiquitous, and mold spores are a common component of household and workplace dust. In large amounts they can be a health hazard to humans, potentially causing allergic reactions and respiratory problems.Some molds produce mycotoxins that can pose serious health risks to humans and animals. “Toxic mold” refers to molds which produce mycotoxins, such as Stachybotrys chartarum. Exposure to high levels of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems and death. Prolonged exposure (for example, daily exposure) can be particularly harmful.Symptoms of mold exposure may include nasal and sinus congestion; runny nose, eye irritation; itchy, red, watery eyes, respiratory problems, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing, chest tightness, cough, throat irritation, skin irritation (such as a rash), headache, and persistent sneezing.
Mold is detectable by smell and signs of water damage on walls or ceiling, and can grow in places invisible to the human eye. It may be found behind wallpaper or paneling, on the inside of ceiling tiles, the back of drywall, or the underside of carpets or carpet padding. Piping in walls may also be a source of mold, since they may leak (causing moisture and condensation).
Spores need three things to grow into mold: nutrients – cellulose (the cell wall of green plants) is a common food for indoor spores; moisture – To begin the decaying process caused by mold; time -mold growth begins from 24 hours to 10 days after the provision of growing conditions. Mold colonies can grow inside buildings, and the chief hazard is the inhalation of mycotoxins. After a flood or major leak, mycotoxin levels are higher even after a building has dried out.
The first step in assessment is to non-intrusively determine if mold is present by visually examining the premises, a mold inspection; visible mold helps determine the level of remediation necessary. If mold is actively growing and visibly confirmed, sampling for its specific species is unnecessary.
Intrusive observation is sometimes needed to assess the mold level. This includes moving furniture, lifting (or removing) carpets, checking behind wallpaper or paneling, checking ventilation ductwork and exposing wall cavities.
Detailed visual inspection and the recognition of moldy odors should be used to find problems. Efforts should focus on areas where there are signs of liquid moisture or water vapor (humidity), or where moisture problems are suspected.
The first step in solving an indoor mold problem is to remove the moisture source; new mold will begin to grow on moist, porous surfaces within 24 to 48 hours. There are a number of ways to prevent mold growth. Some cleaning companies specialize in fabric restoration, removing mold (and mold spores) from clothing to eliminate odor and prevent further damage to garments.
The effective way to clean mold is to use detergent solutions which physically remove mold. Many commercially available detergents marketed for mold cleanup include an EPA-approved antifungal agent.
Significant mold growth may require professional mold remediation to remove the affected building materials and eradicate the source of excess moisture. In extreme cases of mold growth in buildings, it may be more cost-effective to condemn the building than to reduce mold to safe levels.
The goals of remediation are to remove (or clean) contaminated materials, preventing fungi (and fungi-contaminated dust) from entering an occupied (or non-contaminated) area while protecting workers performing the abatement.
It is very important to hire a firm that is professionally trained and certified by the IICRC in Mold remediation and Water Damage Restoration. They must follow the ANSI/IICRC S520 Mold Remediation and the ANSI/IICRC S500 Water Damage Restoration
If you notice or suspect that you have mold growing in your home contact Scope Environmental a IICRC Certified firm that adheres strictly the IICRC Standards for a thorough evaluation and thermal imaging is also available.
Mold often gives off a strong, musty scent so you may smell it before you see it. At Scope Environmental we offer mold and black mold removal as well as provide our customers with prevention methods and tips.