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Mold Issues in Homes

An Inside Look at the Mold Issues in Homes

Fungi include yeast, mold, mildew and mushrooms. Fungi grow over a wide range of environmental niches and are able to colonize on any surface, provided moisture is present over time. Spores are very lightweight and are easily dispersed in air.

Every home is subject to moisture problems, either due to leakage (flooding, pipes bursting, and overflows) or routine activities (showering, watering indoor plants, cooking).  Molds are easily distributed indoors due to natural breezes, heating/ventilation and cooling systems, humidifiers and active movement.

Molds are known to cause a variety of health effects, including mild skin infections to severe allergic reactions to lung disease, cancer, organ failure, neurological disorders and death.

Table 1:  Sources of Indoor Moisture

Problem Sources Common Sources
Flooding Steam from cooking
Backed-up sewers Wet clothes or indoor drying lines
Toilet overflows Appliance drip pans
Clogged drains Appliances vented indoors – cloths dryer
Leaky roofs Humidifiers
Mud or ice dams Damp basement or crawl spaces
Leaking pipes House plants or attached greenhouses
Outside water intrusion Shower or bath steam and leaks
Clothes dryers vented indoors
Condensation on windows or walls
Firewood
High indoor humidity
Window condensate
Vaporizers
Limited ventilation

 

The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus.  These are primarily associated with allergic reactions, headaches, itchy eyes, rashes and respiratory problems, but also known to produce mycotoxins, resulting in chemical toxigenic responses.  Perhaps the most disconcerting indoor mold is Stachybotrys chararum, also known as S. atra.  This mold, even in small doses, is associated with severe, often irreversible neurological conditions, lung disease and death.

The level of mold needed to make people sick varies with the individual.  In general, if the mold is visible or odiferous, it should be eliminated.

Table 2: Symptoms Associated with Pathogenic Molds

Hay fever Mood changes or irritability
Wheezing Seizures
Coughing Asthma
Sneezing Difficulty in concentration
Earache Memory loss
Sore throat Headache
Shortness of breath Kidney failure
Nausea Rashes and dermatitis
Diarrhea
Fever
Chills Others Suspected
Aches and pains Infertility
Fatigue Still birth
Tracheal bleeding Hormonal imbalances
Nose bleed Sudden infant death syndrome

 

Preventing a home from becoming moldy is far easier (and cheaper) than trying to eliminate a fungal colonization. The most important step for elimination of mold in buildings:

  1. Remove the moisture source.
  2. Reduce the contaminant via routine cleaning and disinfecting. Numerous commercial products are widely available for disinfecting non-porous surfaces.
  3. Carpeting and other porous material should be carefully removed.

A mold inspection for a real estate transaction includes the following:

  1. Complete physical Home Inspection.
  2. Air-Quality inspection typically requires a minimum of 2 samples.
  3. Sample & analysis of visible mold (Dry Wall, Paneling, etc).
  4. Comprehensive written report.

For questions regarding mold or to schedule a mold inspection or air quality test, please contact American Environmental Laboratories LLC at (314) 664-2800.