Mold A Growing Problem
Most people are familiar with mold, but few know exactly what it is, what causes it, and the negative effects it can have on a home. Mold is made of tiny fungi particles that feed off organic material. For mold to grow, it needs a food source, a certain temperature, and moisture. When these conditions are present, molds can germinate and colonize. How fast growth occurs depends on the combination of conditions. Spores can germinate after 24-48 hours, and in some cases as few at 12 hours.
Indoor environments offer an ample food supply-drywall, wood, insulation, paper. When these materials become damp or wet, settled spores can become growing molds. This is why mold is such a concern following leaks and flooding. Molds may colonize in 1 to 12 days depending on the type of mold.
The musty odors produced by molds are known by scientists as Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOC's.) Some MVOC's produce musty and moldy odors, which result from the chemical changes taking place during the mold life process. Odors from MVOC's are a sign that mold is actively growing and so may indicate a level of mold contamination requiring remediation.
Mycotoxins, the fungal toxins mold spores release, can cause adverse health effects. The most common symptoms are respiratory issues, congestion, sore throat, difficulty breathing, and skin and eye irritation. The risk of negative health conditions is greater for some people, such as
Those with asthma or allergies
Those with weakened immune systems, such as those who have undergone chemotherapy
Environmental testing can provide insight into the content of the breathable air in your home, and therefore can help prevent prolonged exposure to hazardous materials. If you had a recent leak or flooding, have visible or suspected mold growth, or simply want peace of mind regarding the air quality of your home, air sampling by an environmental professional is highly recommended.
Environmental testing is also recommended if you are moving into a new space. This will help determine what the previous tenants left behind, such as allergens or bacteria, as well as help determining how safe the building is for occupancy.
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