Mold Information

What is mold?

Mold is a microscopic organism, which grows from spores.  There are mold spores everywhere in our environment but they are usually inactive.  However, when the relative humidity exceeds 60% they germinate and multiply.  As the mold develops, it produces enzymes to digest organic materials including paper, books, cloth, photographs, leather and wood.

 

There are 100,000 different species of mold in the world.  Mold is part of the fungi kingdom; a realm shared with mushrooms, yeast and mildews.

 

What does mold need to grow?

 

In order for mold to grow it needs a food source such as leaves, wood, insulation, wallboard, drywall, carpeting, clothing, paper or dirt.  In addition, mold needs a source of moisture for at least 24 to 48 hours.  Temperatures above 65 degrees increase the likelihood of mold growth.  Below is a list of moisture sources that may cause mold problems:

 

  • Flooding
  • Backed up sewers
  • Leaky roofs
  • Humidifiers
  • Mud or ice dams
  • Damp basement or crawl spaces
  • Constant plumbing leaks
  • House plants
  • Steam from cooking or boiling
  • Shower/bath
  • Clothing dryers vented indoors
  • Combustion appliances

 

Health Effects

Can mold make me and my family sick?

Mold grows everywhere, both indoors and outdoors.  Most often mold found indoors comes from outdoor sources.  Outdoor mold spores travel indoors through windows, cracks, crevices or are carried inside on shoes and clothing.  It is very common to find mold spores in the air of homes and growing on damp surfaces.

 

We are all exposed to mold on a daily basis without evident harm.  However, health problems arise when mold spores enter our bodies in large numbers.  For some people a relatively small amount of mold spores can cause health problems, and yet for others it may take a considerably greater amount.  The following are three ways mold spores can enter the human body:

 

  • Inhalation:  Breathing in airborne mold spores.
  • Skin:  Touching moldy surfaces such as furniture or coming in contact with plants that may have molds.
  • Ingestion:  Eating toxic fungal species on spoiled food, including nuts, grain, rice and agricultural products.

 

What symptoms might I see?

The most common health problems caused by indoor mold are allergy symptoms. Although other and more serious problems can occur, people exposed to mold commonly report problems such as:

1. abdominal pain
2. abnormal pap smears
3. acid reflux / indigestion
4. acne
5. allergies and anaphylaxis
    [severe allergic reaction]
6. altered immunity
7. asthma and asthmatic signs
    [sudden onset asthma,
    increased asthma attacks,
    wheezing, shortness in breath,
    coughing, burning in lungs]
8. balance problems 
9. bladder and kidney pain 
10. bleeding lungs 
11. blood pressure irregularities 
12. body aches and muscle pains 
13. breathing difficulties [tightness
     in chest, shortness of breath] 
14. bruising easily 
15. burning in mouth, throat and
     lungs similar to acid reflux 
16. cancer 
17. central nervous system effects 
18. chills 
19. choking 
20. cholesterol or triglycerides
      irregularities
21. chronic fatigue (chronic,
      excessive or continued) 
      and/or general malaise 
22. chronic sinus infections 
23. coated tongue 
24. colds, recurring and with
      decreased resistance to
      infections 
25. constipation 
26. dandruff problems (chronic)
      that won’t go away despite
      use of anti-dandruff shampoos 
27. dark urine 
28. death in extreme cases 
29. depression/anxiety/dementia 
30. dermatitis and skin rashes 
31. diarrhea 
32. difficulty concentrating 
33. difficulty in swallowing 
34. dirt-like taste in mouth 
35. dizziness

36. dry, hacking cough or
      coughing up blood [resulting
      to sore lungs/chest due to
      excessive coughing] 
37. early menopause 
38. eye and vision problems 
39. eye irritation (burning, watery,
      or reddened eyes) 
40. face flushing intermittently 
41. facial movements inadvertently
     or extreme jerking 
42. feeling lost or disconnected
      from what’s happening
      around you 
43. feelings of hopelessness 
44. fevers 
45. fibromyalgia [chronic fatigue
     and widespread pain] 
46. food allergies 
47. frequent bloody noses 
48. frequent infections 
49. hair loss 
50. headaches/migraines 
51. heart attack 
52. hemorrhagic or hypersensitivity
     pneumonitis [extrinsic allergic
     alveolitis, or farmers’ lung
     disease] 
53. hypersensitivity to mold 
54. indigestion [heartburn /
     acid reflux ] 
55. infertility 
56. irritability, mood swings,
      spleen pain or sudden
      personality changes 
57. irritable bowel syndrome 
58. itching of the nose, mouth,
      eyes, throat, skin or any area 
59. kidney pain and failure 
60. large boils on neck 
61. leaky gut syndrome 
62. liver pain 
63. long lasting flu-like symptoms 
64. memory loss or learning
      difficulties [brain fog,
      confusion, Alzheimer’s-like
      symptoms] 
65. metallic taste in mouth

66. multiple chemical sensitivity
67. night sweats and hot flashes 
68. nose or throat irritation 
69. nosebleeds 
70. numbness in face and limbs 
71. open skin sores and lacerations 
72. open sores on head 
73. organic dust toxic syndrome 
74. peripheral nervous
      system effects
75. physical weakness 
76. poor appetite 
77. puffy or droopy eyes 
78. rashes or hives 
79. redness of the sclera
      (white portion of your eyes) 
80. respiratory distress 
81. ringing in ears 
82. runny nose (rhinitis), clear,
      thin, watery mucus from your
      nose may appear suddenly, or
      thick, green slime coming out
      of nose (from sinus cavities) 
83. seizures 
84. sensitivity to smells / odors 
85. sinus congestion, sinus
      problems, chronic sinusitis
      and other nasal problems 
86. skin rashes or irritation 
87. skin redness 
88. sleep disorders 
89. slurred speech or verbal
      dysfunction (trouble in
      speaking) 
90. sneezing fits (more than
      three sneezes in a row,
      happening often) 
91. spitting up mucous 
92. swollen glands 
93. swollen lymph nodes 
94. systemic candida infection 
95. tremors (shaking) 
96. unexplained fevers 
97. urinary tract infection (uti) 
98. vertigo or dizziness 
99. vomiting (nausea) 
100. women’s health problems
       [such as endometriosis and
       vaginal yeast infections].

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Are the risks greater for some people?

There is wide variability in how different people are affected by indoor mold. However, the long term presence of indoor mold growth may eventually become unhealthy for anyone. The following types of people may be affected more severely and sooner than others:


  • Infants and children
  • Elderly people
  • Individuals with respiratory conditions or sensitivities such as allergies and asthma
  • Persons having weakened immune systems (for example, people with HIV infection, chemotherapy patients, organ transplant recipients
  • Those with special health concerns should consult a medical professional if they feel their health is affected by indoor mold.


Are some types of mold more harmful?

Many fungi produce toxic metabolites called mycotoxins.  Dramatic and carcinogenic effects have been recorded for animals and humans exposed to high levels of mycotoxins in laboratory studies.  Symptoms of exposure to mycotoxins may include cold and flu-like symptoms, headache, nosebleeds, dermatitis and immune suppression.  Many mycotoxins are highly disease causing.

Home Investigation

How do I tell if I have a mold problem?

Investigate. The most practical way to find a mold problem is by using your eyes to look for mold growth and by using your nose to locate the source of a suspicious odor. If you see mold or if there is an earthy or musty smell, you should assume a mold problem exists. Other clues are signs of excess moisture or the worsening of allergy-like symptoms.


Look for visible mold growth (may appear cottony, velvety, granular, or leathery and have varied colors of white, gray, brown, black, yellow, green). Mold often appears as discoloration, staining, or fuzzy growth on the surface of building materials or furnishings. When mold is visible, I recommend testing after the remediation work is completed to ensure that there is no longer mold present.


Should I test for mold?

We do not recommend testing for mold yourself.  The Do-It-Yourself kits are not recommended and rarely provide accurate test results. Instead, you should simply assume there is a problem whenever you see mold or smell mold odors. Testing should never take the place of visual inspection and it should never use up resources that are needed to correct moisture problems and remove all visible growth.


Sometimes, mold growth is hidden and difficult to locate. In such cases, a combination of air (outdoor and indoor air samples) and bulk (material) samples may help determine the extent of contamination and where cleaning is needed.


We are Certified Mold Inspectors trained and certified by several mold organizations.  We have extensive knowledge of mold, how it grows, spreads and causes problems.  We have been professionally trained to inspect for the presence of mold and on the proper sampling methods required to provide fast and accurate results.


All samples taken are sent to a third party AIHA accredited laboratory for identification and we have the skills and knowledge required to properly interpret the laboratory results.  You will be provided with a Certified Mold Inspection Report detailing the extent of the mold problem.  Should you need the report for legal proceedings, all of our samples are accompanied with a Chain of Custody form from the time of collection to the time of processing at the laboratory.  The Chain of Custody procedures are an important element should you find yourself in any legal proceedings as a result of mold complications.


Don't take chances with the health of your family members.  If you suspect a mold problem, give us a call and lets get it corrected.