Understanding Mold Under the right conditions (moisture, a food source, and time) mold will grow, multiply and produce spores. Mold grows throughout nature as well as the built environment. Mold reproduces by microscopic cells called “spores” that can be spread easily through the air. Mold spores are always present in the indoor and outdoor air. There are mold that can grow on any organic substrate including wood, paper, carpet, food, ceiling tiles, dried fish, carpet, or any surface where dust has accumulated. When excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or un-addressed. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold spores in the indoor environment. The way to control indoor mold growth is to control the amount of moisture available to the mold. Mold growth can become a problem in your home or office where there is sufficient moisture and the right foodstuff is available. The key to preventing mold growth is to prevent all moisture problems. Of course, hidden mold can grow when there is water available behind walls, sinks, floors, etc. Indications of hidden moisture problems are discoloration of ceiling or walls, warped floors or condensation on the windows or walls.
Health Related Risks:
Based on the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, dampness and mold in homes is associated with increases in several adverse health effects including cough, upper respiratory symptoms, wheeze, and exacerbation of asthma. Mold and fungi contain many known allergens and toxins that can adversely affect your health. Scientific evidence suggests that the disease of asthma may be more prevalent in damp affected buildings. Dampness and mold in homes, office buildings and schools represent a public health problem. The Institute of Medicine concluded, “When microbial contamination is found, it should be eliminated by means that not only limit the possibility of recurrence but also limit exposure of occupants and persons conducting the remediation”
Ten Things You Should Know About Mold:
1) Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory problems.
2) There is no practical way to completely eliminate mold and mold spores in the indoor environment. The way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
3) If mold is a problem in your home or building, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
4) To prevent mold growth any source of a water problem or leak must be repaired.
5) Indoor humidity must be reduced (generally below 60%) to reduce the chances of mold growth by: adequately venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning.
6) Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
7) Clean mold off of hard surfaces with water and detergent and dry completely.
8) Prevent condensation: reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (e.g., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
9) In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem on the floor, do not install carpeting
10) Mold can be found almost anywhere. Mold can grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods; almost anything can support some mold growth provided there is moisture, time to grow and food to eat.
The most effective way to prevent mold growth is to keep the indoor environment clean and dry.
Questions to Consider Before remediation:
Are there existing moisture problems in the building?
Have building materials been wet more than 48 hours?
Are there hidden sources of water or is the humidity too high(high enough to cause condensation)?
Are building occupants reporting musty or moldy odors?
Are building occupants reporting health problems?
Are building materials or furnishings visibly damaged?
Has the building been recently remodeled or has building use
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The goal of sampling is to learn about the levels of mold growth and amplification in buildings. There are also no standard collection methods. Several collection methods are available to inspectors to study mold (and bacteria) in indoor environments. Comparison with reference samples can be a useful approach. Reference samples are usually taken outdoors and sometimes samples can be taken from “non-complaint” areas. In general, indoor fungal concentrations should be similar to or lower than outdoor levels. High levels of mold only found inside buildings often suggest indoor amplification of the fungi. Furthermore, the detection of water-indicating fungi, even at low levels, may require further evaluation. There are several types of testing methods that can detect the presence of mold. They can be used to find mold spores that are suspended in air, in settled dust, or mold growing on surfaces of building materials and furnishings. There are different methods that can identify types of live mold and dead mold in a sampled environment. Mold spores can be allergenic and toxic even when dead. All sampled material obtained in the laboratory is analyzed using modern microscopic methods, standard and innovative mycological techniques, analyzed at 630 – 1,000 times magnification.
Air quelity test- Air samples are possibly the most common type of environmental sample that investigators collect to study bioaerosols (mold, pollen, particulates). The physics of removing particles from the air and the general principles of good sample collection apply to all airborne materials, whether biological or other origin. Therefore, many of the basic principles investigators use to identify and quantify other airborne particulate matter can be adapted to bioaerosol sampling. Common to all aerosol samplers is consideration of collection efficiency.
Bulk This is a destructive test of materials (e.g., settled dust, sections of wallboard, pieces of duct lining, carpet segments, return-air filters, etc.) to determine if they contain or show mold growth. Bulk sampling collects a portion of material small enough to be transported conveniently and handled easily in the laboratory while still representing the material being sampled. A representative sample is taken from the bulk sample and can be cultured for species identification or analyzed using direct microscopy for genus identification. The laboratory is usually able to determine if the there is current of former mold growth or if only normally settled spores were sampled.
Swab A sterile cotton or synthetic fiber-tipped swab is used to test an area of suspected mold growth. Samples obtained using this method can be cultured for species identification or analyzed using direct microscopy for genus identification. The laboratory is usually able to determine if there is current of former mold growth or if only normally settled spores were sampled. Identified spores are generally reported as “present/absent”.
Every test include a detailed lab report for free.