What is mold?
Molds are forms of fungi that are found everywhere – both indoors and outdoors all year round. Outdoors, molds live in the soil, on plants and on dead or decaying matter. Another common term for mold is mildew. Mold growth is encouraged by warm and humid conditions, although it can grow during cold weather also. Thousands of species of mold exist and can be in any color, including white, orange, green, brown or black. Many times, mold can be detected by a musty odor. Most fungi, including molds, produce microscopic cells called “spores” that spread easily through the air. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) when they find the right conditions. All of us are exposed to fungal spores daily in the air we breathe.
How does mold get into a house or building?
Most, if not all, of the mold found indoors comes from outdoor sources. It seems likely to grow and become a problem only where there is water damage, high humidity, or dampness. All molds need moisture to grow. Common sources of indoor moisture that can cause mold problems include flooding, roof and plumbing leaks, damp basement or crawl spaces, or anywhere moist air condenses on cold surfaces. Bathroom showers and steam from cooking may also create problems if not well ventilated.
How can I prevent mold growth?
Controlling excess moisture is the key to preventing and stopping indoor mold growth. Keeping susceptible areas in the home clean and dry is very important. Ventilate or use exhaust fans (to the outdoors) to remove moisture where it accumulates in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry areas. Be sure the clothes dryer vents to outside of house. Repair water leaks promptly, and either dry out and clean or replace any water damaged materials. Materials that stay wet for longer than 48 hours are likely to produce mold growth. Lowering the humidity in the home also helps prevent condensation problems. To lower humidity during humid weather, air conditioners and dehumidifiers may be used. Proper exterior wall insulation helps prevent condensation inside the home during cold weather that could cause mold growth.
Can mold be toxic?
Some molds can produce toxic substances called mycotoxins. Airborne mycotoxins have not been shown to cause health problems to occupants in residential or commercial buildings. The health effects of breathing mycotoxins are not well understood and are currently under study. High or chronic airborne exposures, typically associated with certain occupations like agricultural work, have been associated with illnesses, although these are rare. More is known about eating mycotoxins (from humans and animals consuming moldy foods or fee) and the resulting health effects than is known about breathing mycotoxins.
What should I do if I see or smell mold?
The most important step is to identify and fix the moisture source(s) that caused the mold growth. For small mold problems, use detergent and water to wash mold off hard surfaces and dry completely. Porous or absorbent materials (such as ceiling tiles, wallboard and carpeting) that become moldy should be replaced. If you do not see mold growth but notice a musty odor, mold may be growing behind water-damaged materials, such as walls, carpeting or wallpaper. Persons cleaning mold should wear gloves, eye protection, and an N95 dust mask or respirator. If you have health concerns, consult your doctor before doing any mold cleanup.
Who do I call to deal with extensive mold growth?
Talon Restoration & Cleaning is experienced and certified in mold cleanup. It is important to correct large mold problems as soon as possible. The process includes fixing the source(s) of the moisture problem, cleaning all affected surfaces and drying the area completely. When using outside contractors and/or professionals, make sure they have experience cleaning up mold and check their references.