Mold Inspections (Coming Soon)

Molds are fungi that produce microscopic cells called spores. Mold spores are present everywhere both outdoors and indoors and spread easily through the air. The most common “problem” mold in indoor environments is Stachybotrys atra (also called S. chartarum). It is a black mold that grows on wet materials containing cellulose. Stachybotrys is one of several molds that produce potent mycotoxins (toxic substances).

Black mold crawling up a wall

How Does Mold Affect Health?

Most people have few difficulties when exposed to mold spores, but it is estimated that about 10 percent of the population is severely allergic to mold. Symptoms include respiratory problems, nasal and sinus congestion, watery eyes, sore throat, coughing and skin irritations. Mold also can trigger asthma attacks. In some cases reactions are fatal. Children (especially infants), elderly persons, pregnant women, people with respiratory problems, and those whose immune systems are impaired are at higher risk from mold exposure. Even persons who have no ill effects at first may develop an allergy to mold after continued exposure. Therefore, everyone should avoid exposure to mold spores.

How Do You Know If You Have Mold?

To grow, mold needs a food source, moisture, and mild to warm temperatures. When mold spores in the air find the right conditions they begin to grow. The food source can be any organic material such as dust, books, papers, animal dander, soap scum, wood, particle board, paint, wallpaper, carpet and upholstery. When such materials stay damp (especially in dark areas with poor air circulation) mold will grow. Flooding, pipe leaks, leaky roofs, moisture in walls, high indoor humidity, condensation, and poor heating/air-conditioning system design and operation can create the damp environment mold needs to grow.

If you can smell a musty odor or see mold, you have a mold problem. If you suspect you have a mold problem, you should thoroughly examine your home. It is important to know where to look. Look for mold wherever there may be water damage—behind and under cabinets, around plumbing fixtures and appliances, under carpet, inside walls, behind baseboards and in attics. Moisture can seep through concrete walls and floors and cause mold growth on or in walls, carpeting and materials stored in a basement. Mold also can grow behind furniture (particularly if it is against an outside wall) and in closets with outside walls.

The safest course is to get a Professional Independent Mold Assessment of your home from a certified mold inspector, prior to performing any mold cleanup and remediation.

How Do You Control Mold Growth?

Studies have found that mold contamination can be greatly reduced if a home is kept dry and clean, and efforts are made to reduce the level of mold spores entering the home.

Controlling moisture. To control mold for good, you must solve any moisture problems in your home. Because there are mold spores everywhere, and mold grows on any wet, organic surface, the only way to prevent mold growth is to keep things dry.

Cleaning. Regular cleaning and disinfecting can help prevent mold problems.

Reducing mold spores in the home. There are a number of things you can do to reduce the number of mold spores that enter your home.

Source: Mold An Indoor Air Pollutant, Author, Janie L. Harris. Extension Housing and Environment Specialist The Texas A&M University System