What is house mold?
Here are some facts about house mold:
- House mold is a common term used to refer to some types of fungi that grow in houses. Fungi include mushrooms (or toadstools) and yeast.
- Fungi are found both indoors and outdoors. Therefore the term “house mold” does not mean those molds are strictly found in the house. They can also be found outdoors.
- Molds including house mold can be differentiated to some extent by their colours such as green, blue, black and white. However, this is not a very reliable way of identifying the type of mold since there are several types that are similar in colour.
- Mold may appear furry, slimy or powdery. Some have musty, stale or earthy odours. Odours in the house are indicators of microbial growth and hence moisture problems in the building.
- For it to grow, mold needs water, oxygen and food. It can grow almost anywhere there is water, high humidity or damp conditions. Some require more water than others. The types that require more water are generally used as indicators of moisture damage.
- Some people are sensitive to molds. The most common symptoms of house mold exposure are cough, congestion, runny nose or trouble breathing. It can also worsen asthma symptoms or other allergies.
- Bleach and other and chemicals may kill house mold but it may still cause allergic reactions to sensitive individuals. Bleach is also not recommended since if not properly used it can be dangerous to the health of occupants.
- The major route of house mold exposure is through inhalation of airborne spores, fungal fragments and mycotoxins. Molds release tiny spores and fragments which travel through the air. Often attached to these are mycotoxins and allergens which are the main ways that house mold affects humans.
- Painting over house mold is not recommended since it will not kill or seal it up.
- Not all house mold is visible. Therefore, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean that you don’t have it.
- The best way to control house mold growth is to remove the water and moisture sources.
- Before you consider house mold cleanup you should detect and repair the moisture source first. Otherwise it will return.
- In nature molds break down organic material and recycle nutrients in the environment. However, molds digest organic material and gradually destroy whatever they grow on even your furniture,walls and floor if they get wet.
- Visible house mold on surfaces can easily be recognized by various discolorations such as green, grey, brown, or black, even white and other colours.
How are you exposed to house mold spores?
- We are all exposed to some levels of mold spores on a daily basis, both indoors and outdoors without harm. It is common to find spores in the air inside homes and offices mostly from outdoor sources. In summer outdoor spore counts are several times higher than those of indoor environment. mold spores usually enter into the indoor environment through open doors and windows.
- House mold spores primarily cause health problems when they are present in large numbers and people inhale so many of them. This occurs primarily when there is active mold growth within the home, office, workplaces or school where people live or work.
- People can also be exposed to house mold by touching contaminated materials, pets and by eating contaminated foods. If touching contaminated materials, always wear gloves.
How to cleanup house mold
Small amounts of house mold can easily be cleaned up by use of household detergent and water. It is important to ensure that the cleaned surface is dried completely after cleanup. No special training would be required to clean small amounts of mold (10 square feet or less). However, for large amounts (more than 10 square feet), seeking professional help is advised. Even when cleaning small amounts, it is important to wear an appropriate mask and gloves for personal protection.