Black mold was first documented in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1837…View Article
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Before any type of mold appears on a wall or ceiling, it has already had time to grow and thrive. Although many types of mold cause health issues, one of the more common types is Stachybotrys, which is one of many genera known as “black mold” or “toxic mold.” It is a leading catalyst in causing chronic sinus infections, breathing problems and other allergy symptoms. It is often found within walls and around leaky pipes or air ducts. Much of the time, the mold growth cannot be seen on the surface.
Molds are simple microscopic organisms present almost everywhere indoors and outdoors. Molds, along with mushrooms and yeasts, are fungi needed to break down dead plant and animal material to recycle nutrients in the environment. Because molds grow by digesting organic material, they gradually destroy whatever they grow on. Molds can grow on many surfaces in the home. Molds are fast-growing organisms that need only two things to flourish: (1) a food source, which can be any organic matter such as cloth, wood, paper or dust, and (2) moisture, which does not have to be liquid. Because organic matter is readily available, the best way to inhibit mold growth is to prevent excess moisture in your home.
The mold world is crowded with thousands of species broken down into families by genera. For instance, the Aspergillus genera of mold contain approximately 160 species of aspergillus mold. Each species of mold features unique characteristics in appearance, growth patterns, favorable environments for active growth and preferred food sources. One thing all mold species have in common is the need for moisture to sustain and promote growth.
Many species of mold are capable of causing an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals. This allergic response is similar to those caused by pollen allergies. A person’s sensitivity to mold can increase after repeated exposure to large quantities of mold in their home or occupation, such as when farmers routinely work around moldy hay. Allergic responses to mold are common and may include hay fever-like symptoms such as red eyes, sneezing, runny nose and skin rashes.
The term “toxic mold” is now widespread due to a variety of reasons including well-publicized lawsuits, internet folklore, and decades-old medical case studies about very specific exposure scenarios mischaracterized to apply to the general public. Many species of mold produce defense mechanisms called mycotoxins. These chemical compounds are produced to give species an advantage in colonizing a surface by attacking other species that might be present. Mycotoxins are potentially toxic to sensitive individuals, especially people who are immunocompromised, young children and the elderly.
Light micrograph of the hyphae and spores of the human pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus
Girl with allergenic edema
Mold genera that have achieved notoriety, such as Stachybotrys and Aspergillus, are typically black in color when observed colonizing a surface. These two types of mold, along with many others, release mycotoxins. Mycotoxins can affect humans and animals. However, the effects are more in line with the symptoms of hay fever rather than the harrowing illnesses usually associated with “toxic mold” on the internet. Further, thousands of other mold species can have the exact same effects on people, whether or not they produce mycotoxins. These symptoms can occur with white mold, pink mold, green mold, blue mold, grey mold, black mold, etc.
Water can intrude into the home through internal sources, such as leaking pipes, or external sources such as rainwater. When water invades your home, it causes dampness in walls, ceiling tiles, rugs and other materials. Dampness and excessive moisture over time provide a rich environment for mold growth.
Common sources of water intrusion and moisture that may lead to indoor mold problems include:
Healthy Home’s team of professionals includes certified mold inspectors who oversee every project.
Several types of mold testing can be performed and many are non-invasive.
Mold testing can be as simple as a visual estimation or as advanced as high-tech genetic testing.
Mold isn’t federally regulated. Most states and local municipalities don’t regulate mold either. This lack of overight makes it easy for anyone who wants to capitalize on the mold industry to do so without certification. Unfortunately, unsuspecting homeowners part with their hard-earned money only to receive useless mold reports and bad recommendations for unnecessary and expensive mold remediation.
This lack of regulations caused mold industry leaders to establish and adhere to industry best practices for consulting services and remediation practices. Born out of this group of ethical industry professionals are guidelines issued by leading industry organizations such as American Industrial Hygiene Association. In addition, recognized governmental agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other local bodies have released guidelines with simple, straightforward protocols to deal with identified mold growth in the indoor environment.
Healthy Home follows industry best practices when conducting all mold consulting work. We are certified by the leading independent certifying body, the American Council for Accredited Certification (ACAC), which provides rigorous coursework and proctored exams to document proficiency in the practice of investigation, testing, analysis and remediation protocols as well as an understanding of the building environment and construction defects that can lead to mold growth.
Mold inspections are valuable tools to quickly and efficiently evaluate a home for active or prior sources of water intrusion, elevated moisture content in building materials, temperature and humidity ranges, and visible mold growth. Our Healthy Home certified and trained professional mold consultants use their skills to determine what factors are contributing to the suspected or known visible mold growth in your home. They will determine if you are at risk for harmful exposure and develop protocols to properly remediate identified mold growth from materials in your home.
A type of inspection known as thermal imaging reveals where water has gathered throughout the building or house so mold samples can be extracted from accurate locations, often before evidence of mold has surfaced.
Mold test kits are not recommended in any industry guidelines. Data results from a mold test kit are largely useless without performing the upfront investigational work to identify potential sources of growth.