The following is a list of five major tips that we, at Lily Environmental, have compiled for homeowners regarding mold in their homes and how you can be control it:
1. Any materials that are absorbent and extremely porous, such as ceiling tiles, should be fully replaced if mold is found on them due to how ingrained it can become in the material.
2. Prevent condensation in areas of the house through adding insulation. This will control potential mold growth due to the control of moisture.
3. Do not install any carpeting near areas with a great deal of moisture or perpetual moisture, such as near water fountains, near fridges, near washing machines or sinks/bathtubs.
4. There is no way to completely eradicate all mold and all mold spores due to their natural presence in the air, but it is recommended that the levels are reduced to ‘healthy’ or ‘benign’ levels when indoors.
5. Reduce indoor humidity to 30-50% to control mold growth. Once humidity is greater than 60%, this can contribute and exacerbate mold growth.
For more educational information on mold, structural issues within the home and general maintenance, feel free to continue perusing our blog.
Air quality in indoor environments, such as your home and working environments, is imperative to your overall health. Indoor air pollution, such as those derived from certain strains of mold, dampness, various biological agents and myriad chemicals, can be detrimental to your overall health. It has been estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) that approximately 1.5 million deaths occur each year due to the combustion of fuels (solid) indoors.
Dampness is also correlated with an increase in incidences of various respiratory issues, such as asthma and chronic coughing. Dampness is a multi-faceted issue due to the fact that it can enhance the susceptibility of mold growth within a property.
Due to the overall effect that indoor air quality can have on human health, here are 5 facts about indoor air quality:
1. It is estimated that at least 20% of buildings in North American have some type of dampness (Institute of Medicine, 2004).
2. A lack of good quality ventilation (no windows, lack of opening a window, poor airflow) is a major constituent in creating poor air quality.
3. A musty odor may suggest the air quality is poor in an area.
4. Both Legionnaires disease and cases of Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis have been linked with poor indoor air quality (OSHA, 2016).
5. The quality of the air you breath, and the cleaner it is, can add up to 4 months onto the average person's life.
There are many variables to consider when discussing air quality. Those most susceptible are those with a weakened immune system, children, and those with preexisting respiratory issues.
Institute of Medicine (2004) Damp indoor spaces and health. Washington, DC, National Academies Press.
OSHA (2016) Indoor Air Quality-FAQ (on-line) Occupational Safety and Health Association. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/indoorairquality/faqs.html
Myths about mold are very common due to a conglomeration of false information pervading the web, as well as the media maelstrom around mold in recent years. The following list expands on five of the most common myths about mold:
1. All mold is bad: this is false. Mold is what gave us penicillin, which was a massive breakthrough in medicine and a life saving antibiotic. Mold exists naturally in our outdoor environment, but only a portion of mold is considered 'bad' mold. Mold is also part of our natural cycle, breaking down material (biodegradable materials in our natural environment).
2. Buildings should be completely free of mold: this is false. As stated previously, there is a plethora of mold that occurs naturally in our outdoor environment. Therefore, it is impossible to have a completely mold-free home. An air sample determines the type of mold in the air, as well as the count, which is what discerns whether or not there is a real issue within the property (good mold vs. bad mold, quantity of spores, whether a surface mold has spread etc.).
3. A mold issue will naturally go away on its own: this is false. If anything, the issue will just get worse. The mold can potentially be disturbed and will naturally reproduce via sporulation-spreading its spores and creating cross-contamination throughout the property, which can then develop into mold with adequate moisture and continue the cycle; eventually compromising the structural integrity of the property, air quality and potentially the residents health.
4. Newer buildings are less prone to having mold issues: this is false. If anything, newer buildings are just as susceptible, if not more so, than older homes-in some cases. This is due to newer homes being built in a fashion that is more energy efficient, which makes the homes 'tighter' and lessens the ability to 'breathe'-i.e. ventilation and the buildup of humidity in the house. Also, newer homes are regularly built using oriented strand boards, which are very porous (which is conducive to mold growth).
That's not to say that homeowner's should freak out, but that the awareness should be present to mitigate against the potential for mold growth and not take your safety for granted.
5. Bleaching mold will definitely kill it and resolve any mold related issue: this is false. Bleach has not be proven to kill all types of mold and can be ineffective on very porous surfaces and materials. This method also poses health risks to the person administering the bleach to the area, which is advised against by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and OSHA. The corrosive nature of bleach can also damage the surfaces and areas that it is applied to.
Always be meticulous when researching about mold and general household issues. Be aware of the sources you are reading, and always consult with an industry expert if possible.
why pay for a mold inspection
On occasion, clients will be swayed by remediation companies that offer a "free" inspection, rather than opting for an impartial inspection company that does not endeavor to do remediation. No business can sustain itself on doing free work, so the question then arises: "why is the inspection free?".
Often, remediation companies that offer such a service are essentially creating work for themselves by committing to an inspection and magnifying problems that are either very small to begin with, or not even there at all; this then creates a large job for them, which can end up costing the client a lot more money.
The remediation team essentially becomes its own client-which gets to determine how much work they receive.
With a company that solely offers inspections, objective observation, 3rd party lab testing and reporting, there is no motive to embellish, fabricate or lie about the findings since there isn't any future work in it for the inspection company. An inspection company may just find a benign, non-threatening mold such as a Lumberyard mold and then advise that the homeowner does not need to take any action.
Furthermore, the inspection company may find active mold, such as Aspergillum, but the spore counts may be so low and the air samples so clean, that no further action is required; whereas a remediation firm offering 'free' inspections may determine that remediation needs to be done to 'be on the safe side', when it really isn't necessary.
Always be cautious of any company offering free services because there will always be a stipulation, especially when it comes to the housing market and mold.
Stachybotrys is easily the mold of greatest concern when it comes to our clients. This is what people usually refer to as 'black mold' or 'toxic mold'. Stachybotrys Chartarum is considered one of the more detrimental indoor molds and is most prosaic in bathrooms.
Stachybotrys is currently being studied rather extensively to better understand the mycotoxins* that are produced from the mold-which potentially impact human health neurologically, physically and oncologically (i.e. cancer).
In a relatively recent research paper conducted by Platt et al. (333), the authors extrapolated that there were more reports of subjective complaints from tenants in buildings which were damp and moldy. Stachybotrys tends to be one of the more common culprits in these types of complaints. I always cover the contingencies that exist with mold and what facilitates the growth and spread of mold (temperature, moisture, humidity etc.) with my clients.
Stachybotrys is more common in bathrooms since this type of mold tends to develop within a relative humidity range of 93% (we recommend keeping humidity below 60% within a structure, generally) and a temperature of 77 degrees fahrenheit (Kuhn et Ghannoum, 2003).
Further into the profile of Stachybotrys, this genus is known to be in existence worldwide, which reinforces the ubiquitous nature of it; Stachybotrys was identified in the US during the 1940s and then initiated a media craze later on, which is where the terms 'black mold' and 'toxic mold' derived. Stachybotrys is found in soils and is also known to be found in various strata that are rich in cellulose (a la straw, hemp, plants and plant debris, wood, paper etc.).
Stachybotrys is a borderline extremophile, only to die once a temperature exceeds 140 degrees fahrenheit; also being persistent during winter months and living from years to decades. This gives the reader an idea of the amount of resilience involved in this mold and why it is of concern.
The potential health effects of Stachybotrys have a multitude of determinations and are variable from person to person based on the concentrated levels, the person's own immune system, their levels of exposure, etc. As far as preventative measures go, we always stress upon maintenance such as routine maintenance of HVAC systems, humidity regulation within a structure, immediate repairs of any active leaks-whilst still in their infancy, constant general cleaning of dust/dirt/stains in the house, carpet cleaning and general mindfulness in extremely susceptible areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens.
*As quoted from the academic journal by (Kuhn et Ghannoum, 2003),
"Mycotoxins are diverse secondary metabolites produced by fungi growing on a variety of foodstuffs consumed by both animals and humans. Clinical toxicological syndromes caused by ingestion of large amounts of mycotoxins have been well characterized in animals and range from acute mortality to slow growth and reduced reproductive efficiency. The effects on humans are much less well characterized."
Read further into various pieces of academic research into Stachybotrys (black and toxic mold).
MOLD HEALTH EFFECTS BLOG AND RESEARCH