Although mold is part of the natural environment and plays an important part in breaking down organic matter in nature such as fallen leaves and dead branches from trees, indoor mold growth should be avoided. Mold comes in a variety of colors including black, green, white, and orange and reproduces by tiny airborne spores.
The most common types include:
– Aspergillus – a fairly allergenic strain commonly found in air conditioning systems and on food.
– Cladosporium – a green or black mold that grows behind toilets, in fiberglass air ducts, and on painted surfaces. While this type of mold is not considered toxic to humans, it can trigger allergic symptoms such as watery eyes, rashes, and sore throat.
– Stachybotrys atra – also known as ‘black mold’ grows on all damp surfaces and are commonly found in basements, bathrooms, behind walls, and on ceilings.
Red or orange mold is typically found outdoors on decaying plants and moist wood and has a slimy appearance. It is considered to be completely harmless and should only be removed for aesthetic reasons.
Technically white mold is not really a type of mold but merely indicates that it is in the early stages of growth. This type of mold is the easiest to remove.
Indoor Mold and Health
Mold grows where there is moisture and has been with us for millions of years. It is always present everywhere, whether in the air or on surfaces. Some people develop a sensitivity to mold as the airborne spores can cause reactions such as throat irritation, nasal congestion, skin and eye irritation, and coughing and wheezing. People who develop mold allergies can have severe reactions that may be potentially life-threatening.
People with serious lung infections, chronic lung problems such as obstructive lung disease, and immune-compromised individuals who are exposed to mold may be at risk of serious lung infections and should avoid all areas with mold, including cut grass, compost heaps, and wooded areas.
Mold in the Home
Mold can enter a home through open windows and doors, vents, air conditioners, and heating systems. Mold can become attached to clothing, bags, shoes, and pets and transported into the home.
Mold thrives in dark damp places where there is lots of moisture such as leaks from pipes, roofs, and windows, especially after a flood. They grow on surfaces such as ceiling tiles, wooden surfaces such as doors, floors, and frames, damp cardboard and paper, and tile grouting in bathrooms. It can also grow on wallpaper, drywall, upholstery, fabric, carpets, paints, and dust.
How to Control Mold in the Home
If you have a mold problem you need to identify the source of the moisture and fix the problem before attempting to get rid of the mold. If there is a serious leak from a pipe or a leak in the roof that has allowed rain to enter after a storm, you will have to seek professional help from a mold removal company. Some companies offer a repair service in conjunction with mold removal to ensure that the source of the problem has been fixed and to avoid a further mold infestation.
The only way to deal effectively with mold is to have regular mold inspections, either from a professional mold removal company or doing it yourself. Early detection makes it much easier to eradicate mold and ensure a healthy indoor environment. A mold problem that has been ignored and allowed to deteriorate can have devastating health and financial repercussions.
Indoor mold growth can be controlled by:
– Keeping humidity levels in the home low with proper air conditioning and ventilation;
– Keeping damp areas such as bathrooms, showers, washrooms, and basements clean and dry;
– Promptly fixing any leaks that may occur and regularly checking the roof, plumbing, and windows for possible leaks;
– Keeping high moisture areas such as laundry rooms and cooking areas well ventilated;
– Thoroughly dealing with flood damage by cleaning and drying all surfaces and fixing any damage done.
– Replacing carpets, upholstery, and curtains that have become damp.
– Regularly removing visible mold from surfaces such as countertops, walls, and wood with commercial products or normal soap and water and household bleach.
Mold growth in the home looks like tiny spots, most often black or green, and often has a distinctive musty smell. Since the effects of mold on humans can vary greatly, it should be removed immediately and controlled to prevent a serious infestation.