Mold is a microscopic fungus that is part of the natural environment and necessary for our ecosystem. While it is necessary in the outdoor world, too much mold inside a structure can be dangerous and unsanitary. Mold produces spores as part of its life cycle, and these spores float through the air both inside and outside.
Many people aren’t aware that mold can cause serious structural damage to homes and businesses, which, if left undetected, can cause a property to lose value and/or require significant repairs. And if you have ever suffered from allergies, exposure to molds can often cause nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, skin irritation or even more severe reactions.
Mold needs a moist environment, temperatures above freezing and a food source, which could be leaves, paper, dirt, wood or other building materials. Mold is more likely to be found in damp, dusty spaces or areas with stagnant air.
If you see mold growth or water stains, a mold test can help identify related microbial activity. You can also look for areas where water leakage has occurred, such as roofs, pipes, ceilings or walls. Musty smells may also indicate the presence of mold.
The most effective means to keep mold in check include keeping the humidity level of your home at 40–60 percent, using an air conditioner and/or dehumidifier during humid months and in damp spaces like basements, and always utilizing exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens, along with dryer vents outside your home. Lastly, if there are leaks in your roof, walls or plumbing, it is important to repair them as soon as possible.
Most experts recommend a professional remediation company when elevated mold levels are detected. Remediation professionals are specially trained to isolate and treat mold-affected areas to avoid contaminating adjacent spaces.
Sometimes you will hear terms like “toxic mold” and “black mold” used to refer to molds. While identifying the type of fungus or mold may be interesting, it doesn’t affect the course of action. If mold is present, the CDC has strongly recommended that it be removed, no matter the type*.
*Source: “Facts about Mold and Dampness.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 18 September 2012. Web. http://www.cdc.gov/mold/dampness_facts.htm