by Dan Krell © 2012
Environmental issues in the home are a concern. Although there are linked health concerns, mold is an environmental issue that is often misunderstood because it can be found almost everywhere and its indoor growth may be managed.
Mold is a fungus; and because there are thousands of types of molds (the exact number is unknown), it is often referred to in the plural. Molds are essentially found everywhere. Molds typically grow outdoors in moist areas and live in soil, on plants, wood, and decaying plant matter; however, mold can also grow indoors if the humidity is high enough, or if there is an unrepaired water leak. Molds are useful in digesting dead plant matter as well as for other purposes; however, exposure to molds can also be a health risk.
Molds reproduce via spores; mold spores are found outdoors and indoors surfaces, and can remain dormant for years before they grow. Mold spores enter the home through doorways, windows, and outdoor vents; as well as hitching a ride into the home by attaching themselves on clothing, pets, and other items that are carried into the home. If the spores land on a damp surface (such as where leaks or flooding may occur in the home) they begin to grow and digest the material. Wet building materials can offer a perfect meal for molds. Molds can thrive on materials made from paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products; however, molds can also grow on many other materials, such as dust, paint, insulation, drywall, carpet, and fabric.
The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria. Mold problems in the home can usually be seen and/or smelled. If unimpeded, molds can, over time, eventually destroy the materials where they grow. For this reason, prevention and/or elimination of mold growth in the home can prevent damage to your home and possessions, as well as save you money.
Limiting excess moisture is fundamental to controlling indoor mold growth. Common areas where mold may grow include bathrooms, basements, anywhere condensation and leaks may be found. A common cause for mold growth in the home is uncontrolled humidity. To limit mold in the home, experts recommend: indoor humidity levels should not exceed 50%; use air conditioning and dehumidifier to assist in humidity control; ensure exhaust fans are operational and the home is properly ventilated; carpets should not be used in areas that are susceptible to excess moisture (such as bathrooms); remove/replace previously water logged carpets; and repair any leaks.
Although controlling humidity levels and properly ventilating the home may inhibit mold growth in the home, a problem can still exist. To determine and/or repair a mold issue, a certified mold inspector and/or licensed mold remediation professional should be consulted.
Many people are sensitive to molds and sever reactions may occur; the Institute of Medicine linked indoor mold exposure to upper respiratory symptoms. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC.gov), the presence of mold isn’t always an indoor health issue. Obviously, a physician should be consulted immediately when symptoms from mold exposure are experienced.
Information for this article was obtained from the Centers for Disease Control (cdc.gov) and the Environmental Protection Agency (epa.gov). Additional information on mold in the home and health implications can be found on their corresponding websites (www.cdc.gov/mold/) and (www.epa.gov/mold/).
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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of October 1, 2012. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.