Mold is literally a growing concern. National media attention has alerted the public to the destructive and possibly toxic dangers of hidden mold spores that could affect their family's health and their homes. EPA studies indicate that air levels of indoor pollutants may be 2 to 3 times higher than outdoor levels. Mold, the most dangerous offender of all, often goes undetected because of its invisibility. Most people spend as much as 90% of their time indoors and are not aware of the health hazards created by this pollutant. You owe it to yourself to minimize your exposure to mold spores in the indoor environment, test for mold today!
There are several ways you can become exposed to mold:
Breathing in the spores in the air.
Skin contact from handling an item that has mold growing on it.
Eating without properly washing your hands after handling moldy objects.
Mold has the potential to cause health problems and even make a home uninhabitable. However, everyone is affected differently when in contact with mold. The mold that may not bother the seller may severely affect the buyer. Some mold can produce allergens, irritants and, in some cases, potentially toxic chemical substances known as mycotoxins. People who are sensitive and exposed to mycotoxins can become ill. Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. People diagnosed with allergies and asthma may be very sensitive to mold. Mold can cause asthma attacks. Others at risk may include: infants, children, the elderly, immune compromised patients, pregnant women and individuals with existing respiratory conditions.
With exposure, even in small amounts, mold may cause:
Itching and irritation of the nose, eyes, throat or skin
Mysterious skin rashes
Sinus infections or congestions/sinusitis (runny nose)
Respiratory problems (sneezing and coughing)
Upper and lower respiratory infections
Trouble concentrating, memory lapses, confusion
Mood swings, Anxiety, depression
Chronic aches and pains
Mold can be found in several areas in the home environment. It appears most often in moist areas as little black circles or thread-like white objects. It is usually accompanied with a musty-type odor. Outdoor mold plays a natural part in the environment by breaking down dead organic matter such as dead trees or fallen leaves. Mold reproduces by means of microscopic spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through the indoor and outdoor air. Mold begins to grow indoors when the spores land on surfaces that are wet or damp. Mold will not grow without water or moisture. Therefore, it is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
Some examples where mold can be found inside the home include:
Basements, kitchens (bottom of fridge), around the bathroom vanities, washer/dryer area.
The underside of carpets and pads.
The surface of walls behind furniture (where condensation forms)
Ceilings and the top side of ceiling tiles
Front and backside of the dry wall, wallpaper or paneling
Inside HVAC systems and ductwork
Note: If there is mold growth in your home, you must fix the water problem, and then remove the mold. If you clean the mold, but do not fix the water problem, the mold will grow back. If the contaminated area involved is very large, you may wish to consider hiring a professional.
To find out if mold is a problem in your home, you must have a mold inspection conducted by your inspector.
Visual Inspection: A visual inspection is the initial step in identifying possible contamination problems. It will identify any visible water leaks or moisture stains on ceiling, walls, floors or under counters. The air conditioning and heating systems, the attic and crawl spaces under homes will receive a visual inspection as well. Mold sampling will be recommended if there is any noticeable mold growth, musty odors, visible water damage or stains, poorly maintained HVAC systems or construction defects. By combining a visual inspection with air and swab sampling, the inspector can help identify the hidden source of mold, allergens and indoor pollutants and the extent to any acute or chronic water or moisture damage.
Air Sampling: The purpose of air sampling is to determine the type and amount of airborne contamination in a building. Air sampling may be necessary if the presence of mold, allergens or toxins is suspected (e.g.: musty odors, allergies) but cannot be identified by a visual inspection. When air sampling is performed, both the indoor air and outdoor air are sampled, so the results can be compared to see if a problem exists. Typically, the indoor sample is taken while the heating and/or air conditioning unit is operating; this will ensure the interior air is effectively tested.
Swab Sampling: Swab samples are usually collected from visible moldy surfaces by wiping the area with a sterile swab. This type of sampling is used to identify specific mold types.
Recommendations and Laboratory Results: Once the home has a visual inspection and the mold circumstances evaluated, action can be planned to clean it up and prevent further contamination. In all situations, if mold exists, the underlying cause of the water damage must be corrected.
Clearance Testing: The most important part of the remediation (clean up process) process is the clearance testing. This final testing procedure provides confirmation that the project has been satisfactorily remediated and that the contamination has not spread to other areas.