What is Mold?
Molds can be found almost everywhere. They can grow on just about any organic substance, as long as moisture and oxygen are present. Mold can grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods and insulation to just name a few. When excessive moisture accumulates in buildings or on materials, mold growth can certainly occur, especially if the moisture problem remains undetected and/or unaddressed. It’s impossible to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; however, the key to controlling mold is by controlling the moisture levels. Since mold requires water to grow, preventing moisture problems in buildings and homes will help limit the growth of mold.
What Causes Mold To Grow in Inside a Home?
Molds make tiny spores to reproduce, just as some plant produce seeds, indoors, these mold spores move through the air and settle on surfaces. When mold spores land on a damp spot, they may begin to grow and multiply. Molds need moisture and a food source. Good food sources for molds are cloth, woo, wallpaper and insulation, but molds can grow on almost anything. Water or moisture is the factor that limits mold growth. When there is a wet surface or material that is not dried or discarded promptly (for example, water discharged from a burst pipe), molds can grow within 24 to 48 hours in the area.
How can Molds Affect My Health?
Molds produce spores, which are invisible and small enough to travel through the air and into your lungs. You can also be exposed to molds by skin contact. The most common health problem from molds is allergy symptoms, including: Runny nose, scratchy throat, itchy eyes, sneezing, and in more severe cases,
Wheezing is a serious symptom that may mean asthma, and should be evaluated by a doctor.
Although some molds can produce toxins under certain conditions, research so far has not shown what levels can clearly cause serious health effects from indoor air exposure. If you think you have symptoms related to exposure to molds, you should see your doctor.
Common Species of Michigan Mold:
Stachybotrys (Real Black Mold)
- This group of molds can thrive on water damaged, cellulose-rich material in buildings such as sheet rock, paper, ceiling tiles, insulation backing, wallpaper, etc. In the majority of cases where Stachybotrys is found indoors, water damage has gone unnoticed or ignored since it requires extended periods of time with increased levels of moisture for growth to occur. Stachybotrys is usually black and slimy in appearance. Events of water intrusion that are addressed quickly tends to support the growth of more xerophilic fungi such as Pencillium and Aspergillus.
- Stachybotrys is another fungi that has the ability to produce mycotoxins, ones that are extremely toxic, suspected carcinogens, and immunosuppressive. Exposure to these mycotoxins can result through inhalation, ingestion, and dermal exposure. Symptoms of exposure include dermatitis, cough, rhinitis, nose bleeds, cold and flu-like symptoms, headache, general malaise, and fever.
Commonly found on deteriorating wood products, chaetomium frequently emits a musty odor and is frequently found on water-damaged drywall and other lower cost construction products often used in the United States. It’s health effects have not been well studied, however some rare compounds have on occasion been identified as mutagenic. Currently, more definitive studies are being conducted with some rather distressing results.
Chaetomium are a common fungal species with a ubiquitous distribution with over 80 species currently known. Chaetomium colonies are rapidly growing, cottony and white in color initially. Mature colonies become grey to olive in color. From the reverse, the color is tan to red or brown to black. Fruiting structures of this mold look like olive-green cockleburs – 1/16 inch in diameter – that develop on compost. Although its heat tolerant spores survive 140 F for 6 hours, the mold appears only in compost improperly managed during Phase II, especially where Phase II ventilation is inadequate. Lack of oxygen when compost temperatures are greater than 142 F permits formation of compounds produced in anaerobic conditions. These compounds are toxic to spawn growth but are utilized by the olive green mold. It is highly cellulolytic.
A vast amount of medical news has been downplayed regarding Chaetomium in past literature. Chaetomiumspp. are among the fungi causing infections wholly referred to as phaeohyphomycosis. Fatal deep mycoses due to Chaetomium atrobrunneum have been documented. Brain abscess, peritonitis, cutaneous lesions, and onychomycosis may also develop due to Chaetomium spp.
Aspergillus is the most common genus of fungi in our environment with more than 160 different species of mold. Sixteen of these species have been documented as causing human disease. Aspergillosis is now the 2nd most common fungal infection requiring hospitalization in the United States. Aspergillus fumigatus. The most encountered species causing infection. It is seen abundantly in decomposing organic material, such as self-heating compost piles, since it readily grows at temperatures up to 55 C. People who handle contaminated material often develop hypersensitivity to the spores of Aspergillus and may suffer severe allergic reactions upon exposure. Aspergillus flavus. The 2nd most encountered fungi in cases of Aspergillus infection. It is also known to produce the mycotoxin aflatoxin, one of the most potent carcinogens known to man. In the 1960s, 100,000 turkey poults in Great Britain died from ingesting contaminated feed. Most countries have established levels for aflatoxin in food. However, the risks associated with airborne exposure are not adequately studied and no exposure standards exist. Aspergillus niger. The 3rd most common Aspergillus fungi associated with disease and the most common of any Aspergillus species in nature due to it’s ability to grow on a wide variety of substrates. This species may cause a ‘fungal ball’, which is a condition where the fungus actively proliferates in the human lung, forming a ball. It does so without invading the lung tissue.
These fungi are commonly found in soil, food, cellulose, grains, paint, carpet, wallpaper, interior fiberglass duct insulation, and decaying vegetation. Penicillium may cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, asthma, and allergic alveolitis in susceptible individuals. The genus Penicillium has several species. The most common ones include Penicillium chrysogenum, Penicillium citrinum, Penicillium janthinellum, Penicillium marneffei, and Penicillium purpurogenum. This fungi has been isolated from patients with keratitis, ear infections, pneumonia, endocarditis, peritonitis, and urinary tract infections. Penicillium infections are most commonly exhibited in immunosuppressed individuals. For example, P. marneffei is a fungus abundant in Southeast Asia that typically infects patients with AIDS in this area. Infection with P.marneffei is acquired via inhalation and initially results in a pulmonary infection and then spreads to other areas of the body (lymphatic system, liver, spleen, and bones), and is often fatal. An indication of infection is the appearance of papules that resemble acne on the face, trunk, and extremities. Penicillim spp. do have the ability to produce mycotoxins. The mycotoxin known as Ochratoxin A, which is nephrotoxic and carcinogenic, may be produced by Penicillium verrucosum. Verrucosidin is another mycotoxin produced by this fungus that exhibits neurotoxity. Penicillic acid is another mycotoxin that is nephrotoxic (causes kidney and liver damage).
Mold Prevention Tips For The Home.
● Keep the humidity level in the home below 60%, ideally between 30% and 50%.
● Use exhaust fans while cooking and showering. Make sure fans vent to the outdoors.
● Ventilate and or dehumidify attics, crawl spaces, and basements.
● Keep bathrooms dry and well ventilated.
● Clean, dry or remove anything from your home that is water damaged within 24 to 48 hours.
● Watch for condensation and wet spots.
● And Most Important: Call the professionals at Select Restoration. Good Luck!
Call us today to learn more about our Quality Testing Protocol and Quality Mold Remediation Process.