What is mold?
Molds are types of fungi that are found everywhere. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. Visible mold is an indication of excessive dampness; the source of moisture should be sought and corrected before the mold contamination is remediated. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture. Molds are part of the natural environment. Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
Molds reproduce by forming tiny spores that are not visible to the naked eye. Mold spores are very hardy and can survive under conditions in which mold cannot grow, such as in dry and harsh environments. These spores travel through outdoor and indoor air. When the mold spores land on a surface where moisture is present, mold can then start to grow.
Molds can grow on virtually any substance, as long as moisture or water, oxygen, and an organic source are present Molds reproduce by forming tiny spores that are not visible to the naked eye. Mold spores are very hardy and can survive under conditions in which mold cannot grow, such as in dry and harsh environments. These spores travel through outdoor and indoor air. When the mold spores land on a surface where moisture is present, mold can then start to grow.
Spreading of mold
Molds are usually not a problem unless mold spores land on a damp spot and begin growing. They digest whatever they land on in order to survive. There are molds that grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods and insulation, while other molds feast on the everyday dust and dirt that gather in the moist regions of a building.
When excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, mold growth often will occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains uncorrected. While it is impossible to eliminate all molds and mold spores, controlling moisture can control indoor mold growth.
All molds share the characteristic of being able to grow without sunlight; mold needs only a viable seed (spore), a nutrient source, moisture, and the right temperature to proliferate. This explains why mold infestation is often found in damp, dark, hidden spaces; light and air circulation dry areas out, making them less hospitable for mold.
Molds produce irritating substances that may act as allergens (allergy-causing substances) in sensitive individuals. Furthermore, some molds produce toxic substances
Allergic reactions to mold are the most common health effects of mold. Allergic reactions may happen immediately or develop after a period of time following exposure. Both growing mold and mold spores may lead to allergic reactions. Symptoms of mold allergy may include sneezing, runny nose, coughing, wheezing, tearing and redness of the eyes, and skin irritation or rash. Asthma attacks may be caused by mold or mold spores in people who have asthma and are allergic to mold. Even in some nonallergic individuals, mold can irritate the eyes, skin, and airways. For example, the "black mold"Stachybotrys, along with some other types of mold, produces toxins known as mycotoxins that can cause irritation of the skin and airways in susceptible individuals.
In some cases, people may develop severe reactions to mold exposure. Symptoms of severe reactions, which are uncommon, include fever and difficulty breathing. People with compromised immune systems or those with chronic lung disease can develop serious infections of the lungs due to molds.
In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheezing in otherwise healthy people. Mold was linked to the worsening of asthma symptoms in people who have asthma. Mold was also reported to be linked to hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to this immunologic condition. This uncommon disease is similar to pneumonia and can develop in susceptible individuals after brief or prolonged exposure to mold.
Methods of measurement
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Association (EPA), if visible mold is present, testing is usually unnecessary. There are no EPA or government standards that have been established for mold or mold spore levels,
When mold has previously been identified and cleanup procedures have been undertaken, sampling and testing may be carried out if necessary by qualified professionals to determine that adequate cleaning has occurred.
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Methods of control
Methods to control moisture include building an energy-efficient home with proper air-sealing, proper use of vapor barriers and vapor diffusion strategies.
Maintaining indoor air quality is also critical to reduce mold growth and airborne mold. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) 62-2001 recommends that humidity levels be maintained within the range of 30% to 60%. High humidity levels (>60%) can lead to moisture condensation and mold growth in occupied areas and inside low velocity air ducts. Filtration of indoor air using high efficiency filters will help to reduce airborne mold spore concentrations. Building indoor air quality can be improved by using air conditioning to reduce humidity, and allowing the HVAC system to filter air entering the building. In areas of elevated humidity, increasing ventilation rates can help to keep condensation from occurring.
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