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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Sump sumps? Cover the crock, water evaporates and adds to over all moisture.
.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.
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.
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.
There are many horror stories regarding pipes freezing. Pipes freezing can lead to bigger problems. Don’t let this be your story…
Going to on vacation?
A family of 5 was on their way to their vacation. Before vacation the family prepped the house for departure - they closed all the bedroom, bathroom and basement doors. Temperatures plummeted to below freezing for a day and two nights. The pipes froze. Two days later the temperature rose to above freezing and the pipes burst. Water poured through the house and the walls to the basement. The water stayed there for more than 48 to 72 hours allowing for mold growth. Don’t let this happen to your home.
How can you keep your pipes from freezing?
Ten Tips for keeping your pipes from freezing during the colder months:
Remember don’t let the temperature in your house get too low. If you have a second home and you do not turn off the water make sure the heat is turned on at a temperature of 55 or higher. Make sure you use the tips above…since you are not at that location all of the time and if the pipes burst/thaw and you will have a water problem. If that water problems sits for more than 48 to 72 hours than your problem becomes more than a water problem. It becomes a mold problem.
What do you do if your pipes freeze? Locate the main cut-off valve and have the water cut-off key handy before attempting to thaw out the frozen pipes. Open the faucet the pipe runs to before actually thawing the frozen pipe to allow water to flow through the pipe and relieve any built up pressure in the pipe. You could also use a hair dryer, heat lamp or a portable space heather to thaw out the frozen pipes to help with any pressure built up in the pipe
Make sure you follow the 10 tips to keep your pipes from freezing. Whether you are home or not you do not want your pipes to burst.
How do you prevent Mold in your bathroom? Well – there are many different ways to prevent mold from growing in your bathroom, first and foremost you must control moisture.
How do you prevent moisture? You must have a working bathroom exhaust fan that helps reduce moisture. If you have a fan already in your bathroom a good way to test if it is powerful enough to extract moist air is to take a paper towel and hold it up to the fan while it is on. If the fan can hold the paper towel it is most likely strong enough to extract the moist air generated in the space. If the paper towel falls to the floor it is time to get a new fan. You can buy a good working fan from either Home Depot or Lowes. The fan should not be vented inside the dwelling, such as discharging to the attic or be closed off in the ceiling. The fan should have a direct line to the outside. If the fan does not have a direct line outside, than moisture is collecting somewhere else in your house where mold may be occurring.
Does your exhaust fan automatically turn on when you turn your lights on in the bathroom? If not, you should get in the habit of turning it on when they turn the lights on. If the exhaust fan is not turned on during the shower or bath then the condensation will sit on your walls and ceiling causing moisture build up and then turning to mold.
You can always open a window as well – this will bring in fresh air into the bathroom and allow for the condensation to travel outdoors.
Mold prevention is water prevention. Don’t let condensation happen in your bathroom – this leads to mold. Once mold spores grow they can grow on everything in your bathroom – this could be your towels, curtains, ceilings and walls. If you do decide to remove the mold – remember dead spores still can affect you. You may not see the mold growing but mold spores can be everywhere including the air.
Don’t let mold grow in your bathroom prevent it. For more information on Mold please contact our office at 888-301-1050 or email us at info@CurrenEnvironmental.com
If someone says “Black Mold” or even asks “Is that black mold?” I cringe. In today’s society, people are deathly afraid of black mold and what it will do to you. I even see my industry peers (I use peers rather lightly) tell people about the “Black Mold”. The fact is there is no mold that is called black mold. Yes, that is correct - no mold called black mold. I have seen countless laboratory reports where mold testing was performed and nowhere is there a mold called black mold on that laboratory analytical report. Most molds have very difficult names to spell and pronounce such as Alternaria, Penecillium/Aspergillus, Chaetomium, Basidiospores, Ulocladium and Smuts (OK, Smuts is an easy one to pronounce). The term Black Mold originated from the media to create hype for mold issues and scare the public. In the mold industry, the term is used by nonprofessionals to scare and misinform people. I say this is as the CDC (Centers for Disease Control, EPA (Environmental Protection Agency ) and laboratories that test for mold do not recognize any mold referred to as black mold.
Why should you NOT be afraid of black mold? Because black mold is not a type of mold, black mold is a color of mold and there are many different molds that are white, grey and black, but there is not a specific type of mold called black mold. The term black mold should scare you, because if a mold company representative tells you that you have black mold, well then the next thing they are going to tell you or I mean sell you is a bridge (kidding). What they will sell you is a mold remediation that may or may not be warranted. Let’s face it if you see mold you have mold, if you smell musty odors (the odor is mold growing and off gassing) you have mold and need remediation (remediation = Removal). When people try and scare you with fictitious molds, well then they are playing off fear and trying to steer you toward an emotional decision rather than a well thought out decision.
Look at the facts if you have mold, it has been growing for some time, weeks, months years. When the temperature and moisture conditions are right, mold grows. Mold needs a 48 to 72 hour incubation period to grow, meaning if you get something wet and dry it out fast, no mold will grow. Mold doesn’t grow everyday but when the conditions are right mold will grow and when the conditions are not conducive mold goes dormant like grass in winter.
Now back to “I have mold” because you see it and it is everywhere and were told it is black mold. It was in your crawl space so you think you get a pass because you’re a clean person and don’t go into the crawl space because it is not clean in there. Now that you have looked in there you can see mold growth and it looks bad and you are told it is the worst they have seen. Then you are told you have an emergency mold remediation. Seriously, I am not making this stuff up, these are actual comments people say to us, who met with so-called mold professionals. First, you have mold, next is why do you have mold? You need to find the water source, as mold doesn’t grow without water, fix the water problem BEFORE you remediate otherwise the mold can grow back. Emergency and mold really shouldn’t be in the same sentence because mold takes as long to grow as does getting your “Honey Do List” completed. In situations where the mold firm pushing alarm buttons, step back, you need to call another company to assess your mold issue, because the company in this scenario is not providing a competent consultation. I like decisions based on facts not scare tactics.
When should you get a second opinion about Mold?
Mold can be alarming, the presence of mold points to a moisture issue, which can lead to having to repair what is causing the water problem such as roof, plumbing leak or gutters. The water and mold problem can also mean that you have to replace water (mold damaged) building materials such as wall studs, sheetrock, etc. So yeah, mold can be scary to your wallet. Mold also has a variety of health concerns that affect people differently and some people not at all. Remember some people have peanut allergies, gluten issues, allergies to cats and some mold.
What should you do if you have mold?
Now you know that “Black Mold” is not type of mold and Mold issues are typically not an emergency. When you are told, you have black mold and it is an emergency you know you need to find another firm. Thank them and find someone reputable. Stay away from firms that do not have a physical address (PO Box means no), firms that work out of their homes are also questionable as mold remediation is physical labor-intensive work. Home based firms typically subcontract the work, which adds needless expense.
No one wakes up and says "I want to make a bad decision", but it sometimes it happens. Bad decisions are made when you have a topic that you have no prior experience with, for example, mold remediation.
Below are issues that could or have occured with mold testing and mold remediation companies:
If Mold Remediation was performed properly there are a few things you should be able to see, even with an untrained eye.
(Raised Mold On Wood)
There are so many myths out there regarding Mold. If you Google “Does Mold Cause Cancer” you will get many different answers. Let’s see if we can find the truth.
The best and only place that you should ever visit on the web regarding mold are government sites, such as the CDC, EPA or state sites. Many states have no standards regarding mold and Mold Inspectors and Remediators do not have to be licensed. New York is one of the only states at this point that Mold Inspectors and Remediators have to be licensed and this began starting this January (2016).
Examples of Government websites.
This website details many different issues that arise regarding mold.
Good information on keeping a home mold free.
The State of New York
Can Mold really make you sick?
No and yes, not all molds cause illnesses or even cause cancer. There are thousands and thousands of types of mold and mold spores that are alive in every area of our living space. This means both inside and outside there are some levels of mold. The most important part of understanding mold is finding where the moisture problem is – take care of the moisture problem first, then address the mold. With that being said, if mold is present and there is belief that this is causing some sort of illness, testing for types of mold and mold spores would be a good idea. In the event that you have certain types of mold spores a remediation would be necessary. For example, if there is Aspergillus spores, there is a possibility of illness in those with weakened Immune systems. (https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001326.htm). That is just one example of types of spores that have possibility of causing illness.
Remember – always double check your information. The internet is not always correct. Double check the information and again make sure that these sites you receive your information are government websites.
For more information on Types of Mold click here.
Questions about Mold? Please call us at 888-301-1050 or fill out the form below. Thank you.