Curren Environmental Blog

Black Mold? Mold comes in many different colors...not just black.

Posted by Tiffany Byrne on Apr 24, 2018 3:02:00 PM

Did you know that Mold comes in many different colors? The color doesn't matter, what matters is if it there is mold growth and if you stopped the water filtration. 

At Curren, some of the most common questions are regarding the color of mold. For example:

  • "Is this mold bad because the mold is black or grey?
  • "What type of mold is black mold?"
  • "Is black mold toxic?"

The most popular used term for describing mold is Black Mold. Technically, there is no mold that is named black mold, many sources attribute the term black mold to the media. In reality there are many different types and colors of mold. Some types of Mold can be harmful (regardless if the mold is black) and can cause health issues.

Molds come in many different colors and can mean many different things. As you can see below, mold may be black, grey, orange, green, brown and even white. Many molds may not be harmful. Black mold may be completely innocuous (not harmful or producing no injury) or it could be problematic. Mold can be difficult to determine on your own. The mold you think you see might just be mildew or dirt. Remember, mold is usually not a problem unless mold spores land on something wet  indoors. Mold evaluation and interpretation is best left to the experts. At Curren, we have over 20 years experience testing mold, air testing and mold remediation.

 

Black Mold                                          Green Mold

Mold_in_Basement3-424194-edited                             Green_mold

White & Black Mold                           Brown Mold

IMG_5501-877705-edited                           Brown_mold-968330-edited

Grey Mold

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Please don't hesitate to call us for your mold testing, mold remediation and mold questions.

1-888-301-1050 

 

 

 

Tags: mold, mold remediation, Mold Testing

What is Mold and why is it not black or toxic Mold.

Posted by David C Sulock on Feb 21, 2018 6:00:00 AM


What is mold and is mold dangerous?   Two common questions regarding mold.  First let’s start with "What is mold?". Mold is ubiquitous in our environment.  There are few places on earth, where molds are not present.  That said, mold (which is also called fungi) is a broad-spectrum term to describe fungi, mushrooms, rusts, mildew, and yeast. As humans, we simply complex things by using the term “mold”. Any mold is a eukaryotic organism, meaning one that has a defined nucleus.  Molds lack flagella and reproduce by means of spores. Spores are released from the mature mold body and spread by air currents on people, animals, and/or materials that travel from place to place. These spores can remain viable for extended periods of time, which, in short, is as long as it takes for a suitable environment to occur which allows the mold to form new colonies.

What is Black Mold? What is toxic Mold.

The next two most common questions. First, black mold is not a mold it is a color, the term was made up by the media. There is no mold that has the scientific name as black mold. The same goes for toxic mold, we think the name toxic mold came from the mold industry to scare people. Again no mold has the scientific name toxic mold.

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Molds are fungi that grow in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae that spread to form a network or colony called mycelium. When you see visible mold (spotting, staining, discoloration) you are observing a colony of mold. Most all fungi require oxygen to survive and all fungi need an organic food source.   Unlike humans, molds do not ingest their food but rather absorb nutrients by attacking dead organic matter or parasitizing living organisms. In an outdoor environment you can think of molds as nature’s composers as many molds live in the soil and are active in the decomposition of organic matter.

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Molds are not strictly confined to the outside, although that is their primary habitat.  Molds can grow indoors in a built environment (built being man made structure).  Molds can grow anywhere if the following four primary conditions are satisfied:

  1. Mold spores must first be present in the area.
  2. Food source such as wood, drywall, the paper part of insulation, skin cell fragments, cardboard, carpet, paper, etc.
  3. Appropriate temperature – this is a variable as molds can grow dormant when the temperature is out of range for required growth and then when the temperature is within range mold will grow.  (Think grass growing in summer and growing dormant in winter)
  4. Water or Moisture – if mold was a building, water/moisture would be the foundation, without it, you will not have molds growing and it is the one of the four conditions that can be controlled. Bottom line, if you have mold you have a moisture issue. 
  5. Moisture sources in a built environment are most commonly brought on from water and/or sewer leaks, moisture intrusion (rain) through walls and foundations.  In practice, moisture issues that fuel mold growth are associated with humidity or as condensation in HVAC systems. In terms of relative humidity, causing mold growth, is more of an intermittent issue that can occur at certain times of the year.   Damp, wet times of the year being more likely as opposed to winter when temperature may remove humidity.

    Both national and international health agencies agree that molds can cause health issues to varying degrees.   To the extent anyone is affected by molds relate to the types of molds, concentration, exposure duration and genetic factors of the individual.   There is no perfect fit that would say a certain person would be affected and this person would not.
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Mold affects humans through the inhalation of spores, which is how mold reproduces, so you should realize that when you see mold, spores are present and you could be at risk.  Molds also produce mycotoxins which are chemicals that are created during certain parts of the mold life cycle.  Mycotoxins having the word “toxic” in the name underlines them as a concern.  Mycotoxins can evoke a toxic response, for example, allergic reactions, respiratory irritation, the exacerbation of asthma symptoms as well as other respiratory reactions to an irritant.  Mycotoxins have this affect because they have very low volatility, meaning they have relatively low concentrations in the air, so contact or ingestion rather than inhalation is often the main route of exposure for these chemicals.
Since molds digest matter, they will naturally off gas.  The off gassing of mold often referred to as the musty odor is scientifically called MVOCs or microbial volatile organic compounds.  Their olfactory presence signifies actively growing mold. Fortunately for humans MVOC's have a very low odor threshold, thus, making them easily detectable by smell. Exposure to fungal MVOC's has been blamed for headaches, nasal irritation, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea.   So, while someone may refer to an odor as musty it signifies the presence of mold and compounds that are airborne that can have detrimental health effects in humans.
Chronic exposure to large airborne concentrations of fungal spores can induce allergy or hypersensitivity in certain individuals. In some cases, chronic exposure to fungal spores can result in a flu-like debilitating disease known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

Mold is confusing and the many unlicensed firms that perform mold work dont help to demystify mold.  At Curren will off a free initial consultation.  Call our office Monday to Friday 8:00am to 5:00pm EST and speak to one of our professionals.  888-301-1050.

Tags: mold, mold remediation, mold cleanup

Why do I have Mold?

Posted by david sulock on Sep 30, 2017 9:36:24 AM

                                                   Why is mold so prevalent?

Mold is a four letter word and strikes an emotional cord in people when spoken and encountered. Health concerns are a major factor on people’s perspective of mold. Mold is ubiquitous in our environment and to have a mold free environment is practically impossible. That said, if you see growth (often described as discoloration), you have mold that is or was actively growing and spreading. In short there is an environment that is allowing the mold to grow, which is a preventable situation. Here are some of the environmental and situational causes of mold growth.

mold prevention5

 

Aging Housing Stock. (Deferred Maintenance)

As the homes in the United States get older, the repair and maintenance needs for these homes are on the rise. Older homes are in need of much more care. Gutters clog, caulk dries out, foundations settle and cracks appear, soil erodes away from foundations, dehumidifiers break and don’t get replaced, sump pumps die, exhaust fans break. Homes that have been missing general upkeep have been labeled deferred maintenance abodes.

When gutters are filled with debris water cannot flow from the roof and away from the dwelling perimeter. Water can pour over lengths of horizontal gutters placing water close to the structures foundations and allowing moisture to enter subterranean spaces.

Downspout

 

Caulk around windows dry out and holes appear. Rain events can allow water to enter through worn caulk and enter the building structure.

Over time, foundations can settle and cracks can form. Hydrostatic pressure is strong (ever get pushed down by a wave at the beach?). Water from rain events or melting snow can enter these cracks and crevices; again allowing moisture to enter the space.

All perimeter foundations should have what’s called in industry parlance as “positive drainage”. Meaning the exterior grade around a foundation should slope away from the foundation, thus diverting water from the foundation.

mold prevention4

 

Dehumidifiers can be called the devil’s machine, how many times are you going to trek down the basement and empty the dehumidifier? Until you simple stop doing it (leaving a full tank) and just simple turning off the unit. Dehumidifiers don’t have to break, they just have to stop capturing moisture and discharging it. Eighty percent (80%) of residential single family units that have mold below grade (basements and crawlspaces) had a dehumidifier present, but it was not operating.

Set dehumidifiers to 55 and plug a hose into the unit and drain it directly to a sump or sink. You do not need the unit set to 60 or 65 like the one in the photo

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Sump pumps are the workhorse of a high water table and wet basements. They are your last line of defense to keeping storm events out of your home. These electric pumps will eventually clog and burn out and some simply die from years of unappreciated faithful service.

Mold Prevention1

Sump sumps? Cover the crock, water evaporates and adds to over all moisture.

humidifier set up

.Exhaust fans are loud and who wants to exhaust anything anyway from a bathroom? These fans just make you cold and in an attic, it just makes a lot of noise. But these locations when fans operate, help control environmental conditions that can hinder mold growth.

Bathroom mold

All these seemingly minute items can allow a conducive environment for mold to grow. Truth be told most mold impacted areas did not get moldy over night, most have had a slow steady mold buildup for years and the older the home the more time mold has to grow. The environmental disaster event, where a dwelling is flooded, roof leaks, plumbing line breaks, do happen but they are the minority on average. Attics, crawl spaces, basements by nature of their unconditioned environment are hot beds for mold growth.

 

attic mold

 

Aging Population.

As long time homeowners get older, they age out of skill sets required for homeowner maintenance. As general mobility decrease so does the ability to climb a ladder or walk downstairs. Some people just throw in the towel knowing that the fight they had with mother nature was lost and water will get in and it eventually dries out so why bother?

First Time Homeowners.

Much has been said about younger generations, and not always in the most flattering light. There are no courses you get about home maintenance when you sign a mortgage, more people buy books about rearing kids than about how to take care of a home. Television is no help, the home improvement shows don’t show you how-to-do mundane tasks, they show you backyard retreats you can build, bathroom and kitchen makeovers. All sexy cool stuff, that doesn’t help with home maintenance when it comes to mold.

New Home Construction.

You would think a new home would be a problem free home, well - not for mold. Today’s tighter building envelopes trap moisture indoors allowing mold to grow. New homes tend to have wetter, less dense wood than older homes, primary because the wood comes from new growth forests making the wood young or immature. In short, the wood hasn’t had decades to dry out. In addition, this newer wood often is not kiln dried, which means it did go through a process to fully remove all the moisture, why, because it’s more expensive.

Tags: mold, mold remediation, mold cleanup, mold contractor, Mold Testing

What do my mold test results mean?

Posted by david sulock on Feb 26, 2015 8:53:00 AM

What do my mold test results mean?

A Mold Survey involves mold sampling for the presence or type of mold. Mold sampling is completed in two ways, mold surface sampling and mold air sampling. Mold surface sampling is completed on a surface that is suspected to contain a mold like substance, this type of sampling can be completed by performing acquiring a mold tape lift sample or a mold swab sample. Both methods involve acquiring a sample of the mold like substance and having the sample analyzed by a laboratory. Your results should determine the type and quantity of mold. The interpretation of sample results pertaining to mold concentration has to be evaluated objectively, when mold is found by the analysis as you are sampling an area that has a mold like substance, which can typically represent the suspected highest concentration (worst area), otherwise why would you sample that particular area. The other type of mold sampling is mold air sampling. Mold air sampling is accomplished by running air through a laboratory containing that captures microscopic airborne particle (fungi). The sample container is then analyzed by a laboratory for mold type and mold quantity. The analysis can be studied for both viable molds, meaning the sample is studied to see if the mold spores grow or by non-viable meaning, it what is the overall type and quantity of mold found. Mold non-viable air sampling is more common as it has been established that mold spores alive or dead can be an irritant.

Learn the Facts about Mold

Once you have the laboratory analysis completed, you now have to discuss the results and what they mean. Unlike soil and groundwater samples that all states have specific government established standards, with mold there are No Federal or State Agency established concentration standards (Maximum Exposure Limits- MEL) or threshold level values for airborne indoor mold or for surface sample analysis of mold. Therefore, if you suspect there is a mold problem and have air testing or surface sampling performed, there is no regulatory standard to compare your results against. Without government standards, there is no common industry standards standard. The reason that there are no standards is that setting exposure limits or MELs would be difficult for a variety of technical reasons, which include limitations in both mold surface sampling and mold air sampling techniques, individual variability in sensitivity to microbial exposure among the human population, occurrence of different types of biological and chemical pollutants in indoor environment and limited data on the exposure-response relationship in humans. In essence, it is difficult to say who will be affected by mold spores and at what concentrations it would take to affect different people.
mold testing
Due to the lack of set government standards, the environmental consulting industry follows general principals when evaluating mold test results. On a basic level when evaluating mold air sampling data, the mold levels should be higher outside than inside. The idea behind this approach is that there are always more molds outside in the soil, mulch, plants, decomposition of organic matter, ect. outside. Aside from an indoor and outdoor comparative evaluation, you evaluate the test results for specific types of mold. This evaluation includes looking for common outdoor molds as well as molds that are more commonly found on moist building materials. Evaluation of these molds goes a step deeper by looking for so-called opportunistic molds (marker fungi), which are frequently found on long-term water damaged building materials. The presence of these molds can point to a long-term moisture issue. These opportunistic fungi include Aspergillus and Penicillium species, Acremonium spp., Sporobolomyces spp., Stachybotrys, chartarum, Memnoniella echinata, Tritirachium oryzae, Ulocladium botrytis, U. chartarum, Cladosporium spp., and Chaetomium spp. These are molds that are not typically recovered in the outside air, so when they are found outside, they are in generally low levels. Conversely when they are found indoors these molds typically point to an indoor water issue. The higher the indoor concentration of these fungi the more likely a long term water issue is present.

In summary mold testing and the interpretation of the analytical results involves the evaluation of individual types of mold you find and determining why they are present.

Finding the type of mold, while interesting it does not explain why it is present. Therefore, every mold survey and mold inspection should not just confirm the presence of mold but also why the mold present is, what created the environment for the mold to grow. The backend of mold testing and mold sampling project include an inspection for the physical presence of mold as well as for water damage.

More common mold questions and answerts can be found at: /Mold-Frequently-Asked-Questions

Tags: mold remediation, mold cleanup, Mold Testing

I’m selling my house & I have mold. Do I need mold remediation?

Posted by david sulock on Jun 20, 2013 9:08:00 AM

When a home inspector finds mold, it’s time to call an environmental mold professional.  Having mold in your home risks damaging your real estate deal. It causes alarm and can deter potential buyers. 

What does finding mold mean?

If you have mold, there is an underlying moisture problem that was fixed and the mold went undetected or you still have a water problem that has to be fixed.  The moisture issue causing the mold growth must be addressed or the mold will grow back.  Trying to fix the mold problem yourself is not advisable.  Mold professionals are trained in the use of proper personal protective equipment, including respirators.  When remediating mold specialized equipment is used to create a containment area and an air filtration system is used during mold cleanup and remediation.  Attempting to remove the mold without training and appropriate equipment risks spreading the mold.  Handling mold without the proper protective gear can cause allergic reactions and adversely influence health.  Many people are under the impression they can simply kill mold using bleach, but that is not enough.  Dead mold spores can still cause allergic reactions. MOLD REMEDIATION

Mold needs an organic surface (food source) to grow.  Homes and buildings are filed with organic material for mold to consume. Mold can grow on the paperbacking of fiberglass insulation, sheetrock, wood, dust, cardboard, pretty much anything organic.   The problem with mold it tends to grow where we won't immediately see it, such as behind walls, basements, attics and in crawlspaces. 

 

Have an environmental professional make certain that all of your mold is removed and help you move forward with your home sale.  Paying for a mold inspection and dealing with a mold problem early on can end up saving thousands of dollars in the long run.

Mold Questions? Click Here

Tags: mold, mold remediation, mold cleanup, mold contractor