Mold, one of the simplest organisms on the earth, has been around for millions of years yet it is a relatively new phenomenon/concern in society. Why? Two of the top reasons relate to modern day construction practices and the real estate market. Specific factors include:
- Drywall. Drywall is a convenient building material, as it is both inexpensive and easy to work with. Drywall is basically composed of gypsum dust held together by two thick pieces of paper. Wet cellulose products, including paper from gypsum board (not to mention cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, etc) are a food source for mold. We often see mold growing on the backside of drywall where you cannot see it on the forefront because the mold is feeding off the paper from the other side of the gypsum board, where the moisture originated. Drywall absorbs water like a sponge, which makes drywall difficult to dry out. Within 24-48 hours of drywall getting wet, mold starts to grow. Older buildings have walls made of plaster, which is mold resistant (but not mold proof).
- The building boom. In a building boom, buildings can be erected at a quicker pace, often at the sacrifice of quality construction. Corners are sometimes cut which show up in the form of roof leaks, door/window leaks, improper ventilation etc; potentially leading to excess condensation and/or water intrusion and water can lead to mold. This is not an indictment against all developers. There are plenty of good ethical developers who built quality homes during the boom. But the number of mold calls we get from owners of new construction is staggering.
- Finished basements. If you live in a cold climate, you’ve probably got a basement and interestingly, most of these basements were originally not meant as living spaces. In recent decades, homeowners decided that finishing their basement would add livable square footage to their homes and a basement development industry was born. While a good idea in theory, older buildings were not necessarily constructed to prevent moisture or water infiltration so mold became common in basements. Even newer buildings can have a basement with dampness and mold problems. A lot of our jobs are in basements.
There are many types of mold, but none of them can grow without moisture. One of the objectives of mold remediation professionals is to determine what type of mold is present in a property. This is important because it will help the professional and the property owner determine the relative health risk that the mold poses and how best to remediate it. Unfortunately, not all molds are the same and so far, more than 100,000 species have been identified.
Mold is a fungus, as are mushrooms and yeast, and has a biologicial function as nature’s recycler consuming dead organic matter. Understanding it’s biological importance is essential to understanding why it poses health hazards. For the purposes of mold inspections and remediation, one of our goals is to identify whether or not the mold is allergenic, pathogenic, or toxigenic.
Toxic molds produce mycotoxins that will make anyone sick. Possible reactions include immune suppression and cancer. Mycotoxins are chemical toxins present within or on the surface of the mold spore, which can be inhaled, ingested, or touched. An example of this is aflatoxin, one of the most potent carcinogens known to mankind. Aflatoxin grows on peanuts and grains, and on some other foods.
In order to determine the exact species of mold, mold inspectors may recommend that a tape, bulk or swab sample is taken. Sometimes, air quality tests may also be recommend because air borne mold spores are not visible to the eye; such a test will enable the inspector to report back on the concentration of indoor spore types and levels and compare these to an outdoor reference sample. Samples are then sent to accredited laboratories who analyze them to determine the types and number of spores.
Tiny mold spores are floating through the air around you right now; you just can’t see them. If and when they land on a damp surface, they will begin to grow. That’s when mold colonies form and expand, affect your indoor air quality and potentially cause asthma, allergies and other symptoms to flare up.
If you have any mold issues in your home always have it professionally analyzed to reduce spores from being disrupted into your indoor air. Contact a professional today! 1-888-909-6653